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18 day Berkley hot composting method  RSS feed

 
Jamie Wallace
Posts: 82
Location: Lantzville, Vancouver Island,BC Cool temperate, Lat. 49.245 Zone 8a
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I'm at day 14 of the 18 day Berkley, University of California hot composting method.
Right out of the gate we had good temperatures ranging from 120-140 f.
I would highly recommend it for anyone wanting to produce a quick batch of usable compost. One bonus is the carbon retention, you don't loose nearly as much mass during the process as you would with a longer term more traditional approach.
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Day 4 after its first turn
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Day 14 after turning
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Patrick Leclerc
Posts: 5
Location: Eastern Ontario
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Hi Jaime,

I am trying to do this system for the 1st time after watching Geoff Lawtons Soils DVD. He mentions having .3 cu M each of High carbon (shredded), manure and fresh greens in your pile for the best possible compost. I have a couple of questions...

1. How do you shred stuff like old hay? Is there an easy way I am missing?
2. I cannot produce 0.3cu M of Fresh greens in a day... How do you store them until ready to use? I am thinking kitchen scraps here but maybe I should not be using those?

Thanks,

Patrick
 
Jamie Wallace
Posts: 82
Location: Lantzville, Vancouver Island,BC Cool temperate, Lat. 49.245 Zone 8a
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HI Patrick

I think that you'll be really pleased with this method when you try it. I'm very fortunate in that I live in a rural area which has several horse stables nearby. These stables view the manure as a waste stream so there is an abundance of material available.
The materials I use come right out of the barn as horse manure, lots of bedding (fine douglas fir or red alder shavings), and hay. It is a bit high in carbon, probably between 20-30:1, but along with the manure there is horse urine, in the bedding, which is quite high in nitrogen. This combo works quite well provided you keep a close eye on the temp and moisture content. We get lots of winter rains on the coast of BC so tarping is important.
I have composted several large batches (100 cu m +)using the traditional hot composting method which takes 6 months to a year, a small tractor is important in this situation.

To answer your question:
1-I don't or have not shredded any hay, it gets pulled apart when the horses are fed, that seems to be good enough. Turning the pile every other day (after the first four days) seem to really break up the course materials.
2-I did not add any fresh greens, the nitrogen has come from some of the green hay and horse urine. You could add kitchen scraps, in fact I place all our kitchen scraps into larger hot composts. Within 2+3 weeks your hard pressed to see any previous evidence of the food. I have not tried it but human urine has many elements including nitrogen...you can find it nitrogen in a lot of places.

Today is Day 16 of 18, I'm going to head out and flip the pile and I'll post another image.
Give it a try with what you can pull together Patrick, you'll be amazed at the speed and temperatures that get produced.
This summer I'm going to build a small concrete bin that holds 2+3 cu meters and run 3/4" poly through it, it will be interesting to see how many free hot showers we get...
 
R Scott
Posts: 3341
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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love this system, it doesn't burn off all the carbon.

I am trying to work out the logistics on my farm so I can used the tractor to do this--my back will not take that much turning.
 
Jamie Wallace
Posts: 82
Location: Lantzville, Vancouver Island,BC Cool temperate, Lat. 49.245 Zone 8a
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Day 16 of 18
Following turning of the pile...boy these are getting easier to flip. I'm thinking I'll start two piles next time.
R. Scott, yes equipment would help, I have a backhoe but I don't think you would get the same results with this small scale.
It seems pretty important to have that outer edge turned so its now in the middle of the pile.
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Day 16 of 18 after turning
 
R Scott
Posts: 3341
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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If I can get all around a pile, I can turn it right with the tractor--if I size the pile right relative to the tractor (easy when you only have a 4ft bucket). The problem is having 20 feet all around the pile, even with as much room as I have that gets a little hard to manage.

 
Patrick Leclerc
Posts: 5
Location: Eastern Ontario
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Thanks for the encouragement Jaime, I will absolutely start this. What temperatures doe you think I could start this is outside? We are still below freezing at night where I am. Also, I notice you are not under any cover (that I can see), how do you protect the pile from the rain? I assume you get a lot where you are.
 
Jamie Wallace
Posts: 82
Location: Lantzville, Vancouver Island,BC Cool temperate, Lat. 49.245 Zone 8a
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Hi Patrick
Here is the link which I first referenced before I got started.
http://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/hot-compost-composting-in-18-days/
I compost all year round (although this is the first time I've tried this method) rain, frost, doesn't matter.
A smaller pile, as described in this method, might have some issues with extreme cold but by simply tarping your should avoid most if not all of the challenges.
I tarp my compost piles all year round, I find that it not only helps hold a bit more heat it does help maintain moisture content.
Good luck Patrick...give it a try and let me know how it goes.

By the way they make a reference to cold wet conditions in the link above...
"Even though cold outside air will cool the surface, but not the core of the compost heap, by covering it, this prevents some heat loss from the surface to cooler outside air, and retains the heat within the compost heap better."
 
Patrick Leclerc
Posts: 5
Location: Eastern Ontario
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I started today, so I will let you know! That link was awesome. Thanks for all the help.
 
Jamie Wallace
Posts: 82
Location: Lantzville, Vancouver Island,BC Cool temperate, Lat. 49.245 Zone 8a
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Day 18 of 18...
We are finished and the product looks great.
It's still active, temp was around 110 before turning.
I'll let it sit a while before using it. This is a great way to produce a quick relatively small batch of compost.
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Day 18 before the last turn...my dog Max thinks its looking good
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Day 18 after the final turn
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Looks beautiful. Nice job.
 
Jamie Wallace
Posts: 82
Location: Lantzville, Vancouver Island,BC Cool temperate, Lat. 49.245 Zone 8a
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Thanks Peter...I'm happy with the results.
I did notice today that the pile is still active at around 100 deg.
If you need a quick batch it is the way to go.
 
George Meljon
Posts: 278
Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
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Jamie Wallace wrote:Thanks Peter...I'm happy with the results.
I did notice today that the pile is still active at around 100 deg.
If you need a quick batch it is the way to go.


I think he was talking about your dog.
 
Jamie Wallace
Posts: 82
Location: Lantzville, Vancouver Island,BC Cool temperate, Lat. 49.245 Zone 8a
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Good point George...my dog often steals the show.
 
Harmony Hunden
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Nice dirt. When I did hot composting and spent Two or three hours turning the huge pile by hand every other day for about three weeks it turned out quite nice. I think I should scavenge up some manure from neighbors and see what I can get cooking to plant things in soon...
 
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