Compost corner

khaskings

Compost corner

Post by khaskings » Fri Oct 14, 2011 7:43 am

What is the secret to getting a compost heap really HOT?

What are the variables to keep a compost heap producing heat?

Can a compost heap be 'fed' to produce heat all through the winter and cooler months?

If the guidance for successfully producing a hot compost heap contradicts best practice for producing the best compost, then so be it. The intention is to produced free(ish) heat not top quality compost.

I have been inspired by various attempts and suggestions to keep greenhouses frost free during winter and may be in a position next year to put a plan into action icon_thumleft

Vagetarian

Re: Compost corner

Post by Vagetarian » Fri Oct 14, 2011 8:11 am

I was thinking about how this could help the new greenhouse I was going to build but have since abandoned the idea altogether in favour of more banana plants. :lol:

I'm sure it can make a difference of some kind, even if it simply means having to use less energy/fuel for heating.

musabasjoos

Re: Compost corner

Post by musabasjoos » Fri Oct 14, 2011 8:48 am

I was all excited by the title. It reminded Me of Lenny Henrys 'compost corner' in Tizwas.

Palmer

Re: Compost corner

Post by Palmer » Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:07 am

I like this idea!! It would be a good one to try in the poly if only to keep it frost free for the months of December January and February
I don’t have a clue as to how you would do it though.
What about using kitchen waist and a compost activator icon_scratch

Vagetarian

Re: Compost corner

Post by Vagetarian » Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:09 am

Pee in it regularly! :D

Palmer

Re: Compost corner

Post by Palmer » Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:14 am

i do :lol:

khaskings

Re: Compost corner

Post by khaskings » Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:53 am

Ok, a little more detail.

Intention: A fan pushing cool air through a network of pipes arranged like a heat exchanger in a compost heap so the air is warmed and the warmer air vents into the chosen space ie a greenhouse resulting in a warming effect.

Please, please don't critique pipe bore or air flow or fan volume or heat exchange design or smell just yet, that's all for the future. Firstly, I need to know if a huge pile of manure, appropriately insulated, layered and 'designed' will generate enough heat from 1st December through to 30th April with minimal upkeep.

I know a compost pile gets hot, but for how long and what's the 'fuel'? Does the 'fuel need to be placed in the middle, spread throughout, topped up, urinated on, insulated, given air, given water and so on.

Remember that I need to generate (free) heat, NOT produce quality compost. If that happens it's just a bonus.

I knew someone would pick up the Tiswas link, sorry to disappoint. Did you shout out 'Compost Coorrrrner' when you read it? I did when I wrote it :lol:

musa_monkey

Re: Compost corner

Post by musa_monkey » Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:36 pm

Hang on a minute........... icon_scratch
A compost heap gets hot due to micro organisms and worms munching away at the waste. The micro organisms need heat to kick them into action and a constant level of background heat to maintain their momentum. Wormeries are similar.

So it seems to me that in the depths of winter you would have to create heat to get it working then maintain a heat load to keep it working. The question is can you get more heat out than you put in ? If so then its viable if not then you may just end up paying to make nice compost :)

One other thought. Horse manure was used by the Victorians in pinapple pits as it heated up quickly and retained heat well. That may be of help in a compost heap should you want to try this and have stables near.

Palmer

Re: Compost corner

Post by Palmer » Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:53 pm

What about taping into methane from your compost heap, would that be feasible!
Or would you need a compost heap as big as your house to do that :lol:

Kristen

Re: Compost corner

Post by Kristen » Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:22 pm

Couple of thoughts:

Do you have a supply of fresh manure in the Autumn? The farms around here house their animals for the Winter, so come March or so they are outside and they start clearing the manure out of the barns. I would expect much of the heat to have gone by the following Winter. You'd need a source which had its animals indoors all year round I reckon.

There was some eco-warrior who had a humongous heap of wood chippings. He ran a coiled pipe through it and heated his house from it for several years. Forgotten the details now, Google might find it.

My compost heap doesn't maintain good heat over the winter, but my manure heap does better, but still not significant heat. But the Victorians managed with pits next to their greenhouses and used the heat the composting manure gave off, so definitely possible. I seem to remember that they changed the manure several times a season - tonnes of shovelling!

khaskings

Re: Compost corner

Post by khaskings » Fri Oct 14, 2011 5:33 pm

I think compost was the incorrect phrase. I had in my minds eye a steaming pile of what is clearly manure, not compost. I suppose I'm trying to reproduce the Victorian method but with the benefit of modern materials and techniques.

I'll try and track down wood chip pile man.

Does anyone have experience of how long a manure heap keeps its heat in the core of the pile?

Keep your thoughts coming.

Dim

Re: Compost corner

Post by Dim » Fri Oct 14, 2011 5:56 pm

I've given up tring to make compost

I have compost bins at several of the clients I work for (I do a bit of gardening)

takes a year or longer to get decent compost from 1 bin, so I just buy John Innes #3 when needed

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Yorkshire Kris
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Re: Compost corner

Post by Yorkshire Kris » Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:03 pm

Dim wrote:I've given up tring to make compost

I have compost bins at several of the clients I work for (I do a bit of gardening)

takes a year or longer to get decent compost from 1 bin, so I just buy John Innes #3 when needed

Ask 'Montbeliardii' Don. Love him or loave him he can make good compost (and quickly!)

Tom2006
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Re: Compost corner

Post by Tom2006 » Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:57 pm

Then again, earlier on this year on GW he opened up a bin and a large empty bag of compost fell out. It was New Horizon, so peat free and organic, but he pushed it back down VERY quickly. :lol:
Most wanted list - Any Young Trachycarpus and/or fern.

mumfie

Re: Compost corner

Post by mumfie » Sat Oct 15, 2011 6:50 am

two factors in my opinion: bulk and fresh manure/high nitrogen.

the large heaps in farmers fields steam right in to late november.

i'm not convinced you would get the required bulk in a greenhouse or polytunnel unless you created the pit around the perimeter, but for all that trouble you might as well buy an electric fan and pay the bill.

i have a heap just over 1.5 cubic meter. it rarely gets hot apart from mid-summer: but it's in the shade

i get good compost but it takes ages and needs turning over regularly

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