Personally, I keep wood chips and compost as separate processes.
Wood chips are slow to break down; much slower than the other material that ends up in compost heaps. My experience has been that you end up with at best partially composted chips mixed in with finished compost.
I would use the chips as-is as a mulch for trees, bushes and paths. I would use the coffee grounds in a compost heap with other more readily compostible garden waste (leaves, grass, thin prunning etc...). The chips best purpose for me is covering the soil to prevent muddy paths and weeds. The compost I use as a selective top dressing for vegetables.
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I just spread the chips as mulch and then coffee grounds over the top. This creates beautiful soil underneath full of both worms and mycelia. It is also less work for me, and retains nutrients better than hot composting.
This is all just my opinion based on a flawed memory
I have to agree with Ben. Just mulch with the woodchips, and add coffee grounds over top. Localfungi will colonise the woodchips and coffee grounds, and worms love coffee grounds, and the smaller coffee particles among the wood chips will help add structure to the mulch and keep it more humid, increasing its effectiveness in keeping in soil moisture.
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You're question is highly interesting to me, I'm wondering the same thing. First off, what is your goal? To compost the wood chips? Or to create a Jean Pain style compost water heater? Or something else?
I'm interested in the compost heat so hopefully that's what you're pursuing (says the selfish guy).
I've read that straight wood chips and the leaves that were attached to the branches when chipped up will compost and give off heat over 18 months. Personally I'd like to get more heat but only over a 4 month period. So I'm thinking of mixing coffee grounds to speed it up.
My plan was to mix about 10 gallons of coffee grounds in with each cubic yard of wood chips. I'll intermingle them as I scoop assemble the pile. I have no idea if that's the right ratio. I believe they say to have 30 parts C to 1 part N. But that's based on the actual C and N in the material. Wood chips have about 400 parts C to 1 part N. Coffee grounds are more like 20 parts C to 1 part N. And I think that's by weight and I'm not sure if that's the dry weight or the actual weight.
So I don't know if that helps but I'm very interested in your results.
This is intended for fruit trees (mostly) and recovering my mistake on tilling in wood chips into my veggie garden about 15 months ago. Wood chips I can get by asking and just have to be careful on walnut and cedar. Getting greens is much harder and will have to wait till fall.
I do like the idea of just spreading the coffee grounds on top of the wood chips. I have plenty and will get much more in the coming weeks. So that is something I can do now and what I get in the future can be used to make a hot compost pile. For this I can experiment with the ratios and since I have access to relatively large amounts of coffee and wood chips I can may be expand your ratio (Mike Ray) to maybe 40 gallons of coffee grinds to 1 cuft of wood chips. I have an endless supply of urea also so that may speed things up.
I am also close to finishing up my 25 gallon (approx) vortex brewer and have the various ingredients for use on fruit trees. I am eager to see if Compost tea will do the job that fertilizers did not do for me (very low fruit production).
Thanks for the advice.
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Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama), Zone 7B
Found an example calculation for composting from www.ucanr.edu
Last line is worth noting: Your stuff not on there? Guess. Contrary to what you’ve been led to believe, composting is not
rocket science. Compost happens.
Thanks for the attachments Dennis, they're helpful. Since coffee grounds are 20:1, you can probably compost any and all of them that you get.
In my peculiar case, I'm aiming for a slower compost process (4-5 months). So I have to figure out what C:N ratio (with wood chips as a primary material) will generate max heat for that time period. But that's my problem, I don't need to take your thread off topic.
I'll be the first to admit that my approach to composting isn't the most scientific, but it works well enough for my needs.
I brood my day-old poultry in the basement in kiddy pools and livestock troughs using fine wood shavings as bedding. By the time the wife starts clamoring about the dust and smell, the shavings are well innoculated with green manure, and so I clean out the brooders into Rubbermaid tubs. Add a little water, and the composting process begins. We all know the routine, keep it damp, stir it periodically.
I drink 2-3 cups of coffee per day. My Keurig doesn't have a setting for a cup the size I use, so my grounds get run twice per cup. I use the DIY cup and bulk coffee (Folgers, unless I have the pocket money when I make my Co-Op delivery and can pick up a bag from the local Microroastery.) All of my spent grounds go in a food service gallon plastic jar. When my brooder compost needs a nitrogen boost, I'll add enough water to the grounds to make a slurry from the dregs, and pour it in while mixing the tub. This allows me to better spread the grounds through my mixture, thus giving it a better boost than if I was simply stirring the damp grounds in.
My current batch, which I hope to hide in the basement until spring, includes the fall hatch (wife got a new incubator and couldn't wait) brooding litter, as well as the contents of my container gardening endeavors this year, so the mix should be more garden ready when the time comes. It's in a 90L tub, and about 30% soil components. I've been debating adding earthworms to the mix to better utilize the opportunity and time I have before it's ready.
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the permaculture bootcamp in winter (plus half-assed holidays)