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Jean Pain compost mound temperature is dropping after 3 weeks...advice?  RSS feed

 
zeek mcgalla
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I installed my compost mound on June 24, 2017 and after 4 days the water temperature coming out was 145 F (63 C) now it is 110-115.  The 4 dump trucks of  wood chips were from power line trimming and had leaves, bark and some dead, it was mainly maple and oak and some pine.  I did hook up a re-circulation pump that runs 24/7 and every 5 minutes the entire hot water tank is put through the mound...but the temps is stuck at 110, what has happened?  What can I do?  Oh I did put a layer of chips, a layer of cow manure/trampled feed hay, chips, a layer of cow manure/trampled feed hay. 
Thanks
Zeek
 
Gretchen Austin
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Does the pile have aeration? As I understand it, if the pile doesn't get enough air, it becomes anaerobic. Hydro line chips I got before went moldy fairly quickly- possibly mold could be messing up the bacteria. I would try dumping a bottle of live apple cider vinegar spread on the heap, and put some 4" pipe with 2" holes, placed horizontally through the heap to make sure air is getting to the center of the pile. If you can add some fresh grass clippings, that would probably help too. So many variables it's hard to guess. At least the tree species you got are good at decomposing- no hemlock or cedar I hope. If you make one change per day, then record temperatures before the next change, you can get a better idea of what helps. I'm hoping to set up a Jean Pain system to heat my barn this winter with in-floor heating. We get such low temps and have thick clay soil, the barn floor heaves horribly every winter. Also hoping to add extra heat to the water troughs, which get about 4" of ice in one night if not heated in the depths of winter. Let us know what works!
 
Maxime Thiffault
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Location: Quebec, Canada
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Do you have any update on how it goes?

I'm not i to compost yet (exept vermicompost) so my knowledge is only theorical.

Did you used fresh or dried cow manure?
Did you get temperature from the center and the edge of the pile?

If the edge is hot and the middle is cold: it mifht be too wet.
If the center is hot and the edge is cold: it could be too dry.
Like it was said before aeration is important to keep composting bacterias alive.

Do you have an idea of the ratio Brown vs Green material?

I'm interested in doing a Jean Pain system when i'll be able to.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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Two things come to mind. 

From my reading, my understanding is that Jean Pain used a large percentage of herbaceous material rather than large heavier woody debris in order to generate good breakdown.  In addition to the herbaceous volume, he used a home made shredder that created very fine material that was more like a bent up match stick than the wood chips that are commonly found as the majority product from power line trimmings.  The differences are found in the much higher nitrogen per carbon ratio from the herbaceous material and also the amount of surface area per volume as a ratio in the individual units in the compost pile.  The larger the surface area per volume of any individual chip/shred, the more the water can penetrate it, and the more air can come into contact with it, and thus the more biology that can involve itself with it.

Jean Pain's system was a massive project that had years of trials before he got it down to a smooth science.  His piles were not super aerobic, as they were too large/massive, and were not given piped air, and were not turned--for two years!  They did, however have an aerobic factor.  As far as I can tell the aerobic action in his piles was caused by the structure of the individual matchstick units, allowing air space, and him making the pile damp (not wet) upon building it, thus providing enough air space to get the system rocking.  Off gassing from the active bacterial breakdown will open up air channels. 
 
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