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Getting wood chip compost to heat up

 
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Sorry for the lack of updates, deer season got in the way.  Today it was up to 131.  The smell keeps getting less bad.  The test depression where I have the thermometer buried is sinking so the thermometer dial is getting harder to see over time as it sinks into the developing crater.

Pretty soon I'll think about if I want to mix up more liquid fertilizer and spread it more broadly on the pile and down in the pvc pipes.  

 
Mike Haasl
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I think it's plateaued at 133.  So I poked the thermometer around in a number of places and it was generally around 130 in much of the pile.  The only place that was more generally colder was the perimeter on the side with the extra green material (right side) where it was closer to 115-120.

So, what to do now?  I could mix up more fertilizer with water and pump it onto the pile more broadly (instead of in the 5 test spots like last time).  Still letting it sink in in a number of spots.  I could play with the aeration fan and try running it more.  It's a rather powerful radon fan and currently it's on for 15 min daily.

The pile is definitely cooking at the level needed to compost effectively.  Now I just need more heat from it and/or to have the heat radiate out to the perimeter of the bin to provide heat to the greenhouse.

The smell is not noticeable except when I open the hatch.
 
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Exciting! Are winter temps about where they tend to be at this point?

I am thinking you have big factors: temp humidity oxygen nitrogen. The minerals I see like hand grnades just have to be closish, I might throw some azomite  in there to add some micros. Now that the temp is self catalizing you can modify one variable at a time to see if you can get to the point where it is almost too hot and you can bleed heat out of the pile.

I’m excited for you this seems like all that work is paying off.
 
Mike Haasl
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Thanks TJ!  Winter temps outside are normal to a bit warm (upper 20s for the highs, teens for the lows).

The fertilizer has some micro nutrients in it (I believe), plus I've been urigating it as well.  How would you apply azomite?  Looks like it's a powder...  I can mix things with water and pour them on the pile or into the PVC pipes.  But I don't want to plug the pipes up, they only have 1/8" holes (give or take).
 
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It seems to me you’ve done a lot of things right, and many of my first ideas have been mentioned already. The only things I can think of as possible problems in your system
- are contamination from biocides in the chips or other additives (a risk I also accept when taking arborist chips)
- the metal container itself possibly being coated in a biocide
- a non permeable container restricting air flow

Someone called the fire department on my woodchips pile last month after I had been taking from it for mulch and left it steaming. Nothing had been added to this pile of pine and fir. Everyone in California is terrified about fires with all those going on in southern and central CA.

I have had good results from putting duck pond water over woodchips and seeing it heat up to the point of feeling hazardous to climb, and then it developed nice fungal hyphae.
 
Tj Jefferson
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I have a bag of powder I mix in a slurry for my new plantings. It’s fine enough to get down into the pile.

 
Mike Haasl
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Thanks team!  Ben, I doubt there are biocides in the chips since they're just prunings and cut trees in the city that were reduced to chips.  There could very well be some cedar or other rot resistant species in the mix.  The metal container is 20 year old galvanized steel roofing so maybe the galvanized coating could be a problem.  The container is not permeable so I have to give it air with the fan.  I can play with the amount of air I supply at will so if that should be my next experiment, I'm cool with that.

Thank TJ, I'll see if I can get a bag of the stuff.
 
Ben Zumeta
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I may have missed it posted already, but have you tried using a black “chimney”, with perforations in the section in the pile? The black heats up in the sun, when ventilation is most beneficial, and a thermosyphon passively ventilates the pile. This is just an adaptation off the classic design for ventilating a house passively, and since any heat loss is escaping within your greenhouse (ideally into a thermal mass like you are doing in your soil), it would seem to be worthwhile to me.
 
Mike Haasl
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Yeah Ben, that chimney thing won't work for my pile.  It's in an enclosed chamber inside my greenhouse.  So the only way I get air to the microbes is via a perforated drain tile under the pile that is fed from a radon fan.  After pushing air into the pile from underneath, the air exhausts from the chamber in non-perforated tile and runs 50' underground and through a planting bed before returning to the greenhouse interior.  So as long as the air is actually moving through the pile, which I think it is, I'm in relatively good control of aeration.

Currently I'm running the fan for 15 min every day at 4pm.
 
Ben Zumeta
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I think you would have better efficiency pulling the air than pushing it. I’d also consider drilling numerous holes in your container. I would also wet the whole batch down to the point where it runs off slightly at the beginning, then adding moisture only as needed thereafter.
 
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