An enormous thank you to Dave Beecher this guest post on his experience of hot composting. Dave has been working alongside Zach Wright who himself learned directly from the mighty Elaine Ingham herself! This post includes a very entertaining video of Dave making his compost pile, an activity the clearly fascinated everyone (including Billy the Dog!) at Caerhys Organic Farm in St Davids, Wales! You can contact Dave on (an image to protect him from spam):
So, my first attempt only got as far as turn 3 and would not heat up after that. It became very wet (liquid running out the bottom) once all the green material started to break down. I didn’t have enough high N and my green material contained a lot of internal water.
Pile shrunk down a lot as I did not compact sufficiently when building the initial pile. Using a flat head shovel every 6-12 inches works well. The second pallet was larger than first allowing for a bigger ring and making the pile look really small. Keep the diameter of the ring the same regardless of pallet size. This will allow better control when turning as you will be able to divide you material up evenly to comply with the turning break down as shown below.
I used a 500kg grain bag with pull cord to cover the pile. This worked well as i could open the top and release excess heat and condensation, preventing the top of the pile from getting soggy. I had to turn two days in a row as it was getting very close to 70c. I made sure to air it out well on the second turn and not compact it down at all. This allowed me to keep the temp 55-59C for 3 days.
After the first pile getting to wet i held back a little on the water when making the second pile. The temp was slow to rise only 18C the following morning. I add 7L of water to the top and sides that evening, it reached temp by the next day. I continued to add water when need and based it on visual and squeeze method.
Flies and Midges
When the pile was covered and slightly damp from condensation there were a few hanging around. Once i removed it and allowed it to dry out they disappeared
Got my first 2 mushroom on day 17 loads on day 19, by day 22 they were gone just some pin heads were visible.
After 1 month i found 5 bacteria feeding nematodes, one predatory, lots of amoeba and one our two fungi spores
After 7 weeks i was getting 30-50 nematodes per slide mainly bacteria and 3-5 predatory, a diverse range of amoeba and fungi development.
The pile is now 10 weeks old, I will be heading back to Wales next week to see how it’s getting on and will let you.