Greg Martin wrote:That is a great question. My speculation is that it has to do with being a granular sponge. I don't crush mine, I leave it at the full size it's made at....something like 1/2 - 1", but lots of other sizes too. Then I lay 2" on the ground to sop up any compost drippings while creating an air permeable base. The rest of the pile has it throughout and it may help open up air channels there too, albeit not as much as the base. Since the biochar can fill up with water, but also space things open a bit for air and drainage I figure it does that in the pile like it does it in the soil. Also, all the wet surface area in the biochar is a home for soil microbes, so that likely helps in the pile as well. I should really try and examine my biochar more throughout this process. Would be fascinating to see exactly what's happening in that microcosm. I wonder if I can get a university soil scientist interested in my compost piles :) Hmmm, any of you guys a university soil scientist?
So I think what I learned is that I need to get the pile wetter when I build it. I may need to add water during the composting season. I think I need more N to get the pile hotter and to complete its composting by spring. The wood chips seem to be small enough so I don't think I need to run them through my chipper.
I think I'll divide the chamber in half (E/W) and try a different recipe on each side. One or both sides will get shredded hay mixed in to increase the Nitrogen ratio. One or both sides may get a bunch of coffee grounds (20 to 50 gallons) to also bump the N. One side may get run through my chipper to test smaller wood pieces.