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How often to water the pile

 
Matthew McCoul
Posts: 72
Location: Southeast Michigan
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I'll be doing the 18 day compost method. I know I turn the pile on the fourth day and every two days after.
But when do I water? Also every second day? As needed? How much is needed?
This is assuming no rain, and average humidity for a temperate climate.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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What you are describing is more along the Berkley Method of hot composting which is as follows;

1.Compost temperature is maintained between 55-65 degrees Celsius (131f - 149f : This is the ideal range because it is the temperature at which weeds seeds and pathogens will be killed.
The hotter the compost, the darker your compost will become.
Most importantly this is the ideal temperature range where the compost will get the most diversity of life.

2.The C:N (carbon : nitrogen) balance in the composting materials is approximately 25-30:1. It is important that you find what combinations you can make your compost heap out of to achieve this ratio.

3.The compost heap needs to be roughly 1.5m high.
This is important because a higher heap will create compaction in the middle which will result in anaerobic decomposition.
If you want to make more, make the heap as long as you want, but keep the height the same. Alternately you could turn a taller pile but this is more work for you and un-necessary if you stick to the 1.5meter height

4.If composting material is high in carbon, such as tree branches, they need to be broken up, such as with a chipper/shredder.

5.Compost is turned from outside to inside and vice versa to mix it thoroughly. This is done after four days then every two days after the initial turning.
The outer layer is removed and it becomes the inner part of the pile, the previous inner part becomes the outer part.
Watering is only needed when the pile shows signs of drying out and then you only add enough water to moisten all the composting materials.
Over watering can result in anaerobic conditions which we do not want. Try using a hose with a mist sprayer as you turn the pile per number 5.

Use of an Activator is recommended to speed things along. Activators can be: Urine, blood, animal or fish remains, comfrey, nettles, yarrow, or a handful of good compost. This goes into the middle of your heap.

You will need a cover (most use plastic but I much prefer using something that will rot such as old carpet, plastic can create condensation which will make the heap to wet).

To build a heap use 1/3 manure, 1/3 greens and 1.3 browns, build on a bed of twigs so the heap is not actually touching the soil beneath.

The heap is to wet if you see droplets of water or it smells dank.
 
Matthew McCoul
Posts: 72
Location: Southeast Michigan
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What purpose does the cover serve?
 
Tegan Russo
Posts: 34
Location: Maritime Northwest USA, zone 8b
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I've read that the cover prevents rainfall from cooling down the pile. I'd also think that it helps keep things moist in hot, dry weather, though I don't know for sure.
 
Blake Wheeler
Posts: 166
Location: Kentucky 6b
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Matthew McCoul wrote:What purpose does the cover serve?


Helps maintain proper moisture. Uncovered it's subject to drying out, bad, or getting soaked during a rain, bad. The first stops the process, the second displaces air and turns the pile anaerobic.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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