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composting pure wood chip - how much is needed for heat?

 
Steve Hitchen
Posts: 30
Location: Yorksire - North England
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Hello all.

I know that huge piles of woodchip will generate a lot of heat and compost down, but I'm not sure on the volumes needed.

Has anyone had sucsess with "moderate" sized piles - say 3 cubic meters ( 3 cubic yards). I was thinking of making some large insulated bins, filling them, maybe giving it a kick start with some water and some greenery and throwing in a load of mushroom dowels and seeing what happens.

Would this kind of pile work, or do I need to in the 10+ cubic meter terrirotiy to start getting thermal decomposition?

Thanks

Steve
 
David Creed
Posts: 31
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Hi Steve, I have seen council chips dotted around my area less than a cube yard and they can get hot so your idea should work ok, it will take time though. Grass clipping get hot very fast and would be a good mix for your wood chip, as would human urine. gallons of the stuff for that size of pile. I started a compost bin last November with nothing more than sawdust and urine and it is still on going, good luck, Dave ps just up the road from you, Whitley Bay
 
Blake Wheeler
Posts: 166
Location: Kentucky 6b
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No personal experience, but wouldn't the heat kill the mushrooms?
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1592
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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For a hot heap you really need green chips - branch trimmings and the like, with leaves and other new living material. Old dead heartwood will break down more slowly and not get so hot.
 
Tim Malacarne
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Location: South central Illinois, USA
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I have read that you need a minimum of 1 cubic yard for it to reach critical mass enough to heat... I pile household garbage, garden trimmings, and such in a wire enclosure. The whole thing works on the carbon to nitrogen ratio. You will need quite a lot of nitrogen to balance out the wood chips. There's years of reading about composting on the net... Good luck! Best, TM
 
Kevin MacBearach
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Location: Beavercreek, Oregon
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If a pile of wood chips that's mainly douglas fir but with some cedar in it, will the cedar slow down the composting process very much?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Posts: 1987
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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I like to use 3 cubic feet of chips for wood chip compost. I use pallets for the surround (just tie them together with rope or twine to hold them together) then fill in layers or even better fill half way, leaving the center open for grass clippings, kitchen waste (even bones) and coffee grounds, add some water.
Once you have the center filled with the green items pile more chips around the edge and fill the new center opening and add some water. Finish off with at least 1 foot depth of wood chips, don't bother adding mushroom spore, there will already be some present.
If you cover with a tarp or piece of carpet the pile will heat faster. You will notice the pile settling after around 2 months, just add more wood chips to the top or turn the heap and add more greens and cover with wood chips. Take finished compost from bottom after around 6 months and start a new heap with the left overs.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
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