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Turning Compost Pile

Posted by sandhill_farms 10 NV (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 10, 10 at 14:56

I have been Gardening and Composting for years but because of work obligations I've been away from it for the past (3) years. Now that I'm retired I'm devoting most of my time to growing for market on my (2) acres. I started a new straw compost bin, (Photo Below), and was wondering how often I should turn it (and why) as I've forgotten. I have access to all the horse manure I want and have a huge pile of straw bales as well as other browns and greens. Thanks!

Greg
Southern Nevada

Photobucket


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Turning Compost Pile

Hard to stick a compost thermometer into that pile. Your core temp, and later experience, will tell you when to turn the pile.

You want to turn piles when the air and water are used up in the core, or center of the pile. There is no one correct answer (except maybe 'it depends'). A hot pile might be ready in as little as two or three days. A cold pile might be turned as infrequently as every six months.

I turn my piles when are are close to the expected high core temp. You will probably not see the 160 or 165F core temp.s that I get with a optimal pile. Your pile appears to be about a foot high. I have found that core temps of 150F can be produced with a 18" high pile.


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RE: Turning Compost Pile

Thanks for your answer, robertz6. Looking at a Photo can be deceiving, (my fault - I know better). Actually the pile is 23 inches high and I can go up with another row of straw bales. I will also be extending my straw beds for new bins. I can't find my thermometer so I'll have to get a new one but I know you can't hold your hand inside that pile for very long.

Greg
Southern Nevada


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RE: Turning Compost Pile

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 10, 10 at 15:54

Most straw bales are 14 x 18 x 36 so it looks like you have a 18 x 36 x 44 sized bin if the pile is not in a depression. (hole, not sad type of depression). While it might heat up with that volume given the C:N, moisture and air requirements are met, bigger might be better.

Having a couple of acres, I'd be tempted to go two layers high for increased volume and help with moisture retention, which, I assume is an issue in NV. Unless you like to turn, build more piles and turn less often might be the way to go.

Nice picture by the way.

Lloyd

P.S. Funny how up here in Canada we generally use two twine balers (top right quadrant of picture). I wonder why you guys use three?


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RE: Turning Compost Pile

What a beautiful picture, and all that glorious sunshine.

What's in the center of the bales ? It all looks so uniform and tidy. Makes me want to go out and try to make my piles look prettier. ;)

I hope you have some sort of equipment to help turn that, what with this only being the first of more piles.


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RE: Turning Compost Pile

If you added an air pipe or two through the bottom of that you woulnd't have to turn as much to get air in.


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RE: Turning Compost Pile

Lloyd:

I went-out and measured the pile and it's 23" high but I can easily go up some more - no big deal. And thanks for the compliment on the Photo. Besides Gardening I'm big time in to Outdoor Photography, having thousands of Photos of mainly old historic buildings - mines - and Indian Petroglyphs.

Plaidbird:

Turning is no big deal - I appreciate hard work. And besides that, it's good for you.

Greg
Southern Nevada


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RE: Turning Compost Pile

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 10, 10 at 16:54

Interesting. I never knew they built 23 inch bales, learn something new everyday. Maybe that is why they use 3 strings too.

Are they longer as well? The reason we go 18 x 36 is so that it takes two bales (18+18) to make a 36 so that we can make stacks that don't fall over as easy.

But once again I digress from the topic....sorry.

Lloyd


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RE: Turning Compost Pile

Interesting way to make a compost pile. The enclosure eventually becomes part of the compost.
I have to admit I'm lazy. After the intial heat up and cooling down I turn redworms loose in it and let them do the work. By the time the worms are done churning it, it's ready for the garden.


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RE: Turning Compost Pile

Lloyd:

The bales of straw you're looking at are being used for the second time and have worn away on top. Actually new they were wider than what you see. I have some newer ones that I'll go out and measure the width and length of just for your information. In the morning, the wind's coming-up now and wind irritates me so I'm staying inside for now - LOL.

hoodat:

It's easy and quick to build and cheap as well. I have a more elaborate setup that I built but I'd rather do it this way. I've gone the vermicultre route before but had trouble keeping them alive for some reason.

Greg
Southern Nevada


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RE: Turning Compost Pile

I appreciate hard work. And besides that, it's good for you.

Agreed.. at least that's what I keep telling myself. Yours just all looks so big to me, a city gal who keeps plenty busy just keeping my 50' X 150' jungle at bay. It will keep young is the plan. :)

toxcrusadr,

What kind of air pipes ? Sounds interesting.


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RE: Turning Compost Pile

plaidbird:

I think I know what toxcrusadr is talking about. I have a couple that I've used but didn't put them in this bin.

What I did was to take a length of ABS (black) pipe 4" in diameter and drilled holes in it all the way around and down the length of the pipe I then placed this pipe in the bin and piled compostables around it. The ends of the pipe stick-out of the bin on both ends and this, (in my way of thinking), will allow air inside the pile. I could be wrong in doing this but I think I read it somewhere.

Greg
Southern Nevada


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RE: Turning Compost Pile

The primary reason for turning compost is to encourage the bacteria to work on more material, they tend to stay in the middle of your compost pile and do not vigorously work on the stuff on the outside. If you do turn you watch the temperature and when it peaks at about 140 or so you turn and then the bacteria should go to work again and bring it back up there. When I did, diligenlty, turn my compost piles I found that 3 times was the most I had to do.


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RE: Turning Compost Pile

Thanks kimmsr!

Greg
Southern Nevada


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RE: Turning Compost Pile

Leach pipes for septic tank systems already have holes in them and should work fine for aerating the center of the pile. they should be avilable in building supply stores, especially if there are septic tanks in use in your area.


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Lloyd...

I went-out this morning and measured my straw bales and they are roughly 22" wide and 42" long, (give or take an inch). I also went to the feed store and measured their alfalfa bales and they are (3) string with the same measurements.

I guess we just do things different here than the farmers up north do, I don't know...

Greg
Southern Nevada


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RE: Turning Compost Pile

The picture is purtee enuff for a calendar! Re: keeping worms alive ... if you can provide the moisture, give it another try.... they finish off your compost beautifly.
BTW .. are you using this compost as a growing medium for seedlings, potted plants or in-ground crops? [that's me being nosey about what you plan on growing]


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RE: Turning Compost Pile

I'm sorry, borderbarb but I can't release that information as it may reveal too much about me and all those throngs of horrible people out there that are looking to get me may be able to find me, and then what - LOL!

Greg
Southern Nevada


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RE: Turning Compost Pile

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 11, 10 at 14:39

I also did some research and found some Massey balers that make different sized bales depending on the model. I did not know that. Interesting.

Lloyd


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