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Tim Auld
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Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
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An 18 Day Hot Compost Experiment

Posted by Tim Auld about 12 years ago

I've made plenty of compost before, but had not yet followed the Berkeley method that is supposed to produce finished compost in 18 days. I decided to put it to the test.

Just before the first turn I decided to record the temperature of the heap, so the data is incomplete. I will do it again soon, but perhaps with a proper data logger to save a lot of time.

Major ingredients are sugarcane mulch, horse manure, coffee grounds, wood chips and food scraps. There is also blood & bone, fish emulsion, seasol, Biotrace, molasses, urine, used pelletised newspaper kitty litter, clay subsoil, bentonite clay, comfrey and qld arrowroot.

Part way through I buried a jar with beeswax and water in the middle of the pile to see if I could melt the beeswax. Beeswax melts at 62-64 degrees. I think the water is unnecessary if the wax is already clean. It was only to transmit the heat to the wax better than air - and will complicate pouring wax into candle molds. If the wax still has propolis and detritus in it then it might be necessary to run it through once to separate the wax, and then again to melt it for filling candle moulds.

Fast turns seemed to improve the temperature of the heap for the next 2 days, although it could have just been different placement of the sensor.

I had a close look at 21 days and the material did not look fine enough for my satisfaction. Perhaps it was the sugarcane mulch with the high silica content that was slow to break down. I decided to turn it again to see what would happen.

Img 9263 Img 9265 Img 9268 Img 9269 Img 9270 Img 9271 Img 9361 Img 9362 Img 9364 Berkeleycomposttemp20120630

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Type: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course
Teacher: Dick Copeman
Location: Northey Street City Farm
Date: May 2008
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Teacher: Dick Copeman
Location: Northey Street City Farm
Date: May 2009
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