Learning from Geoff - My 18 day compost experiment

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Pakanohida, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    I learned a lot from Geoff Lawton & from the Soils DVD as many people know. Well, yesterday I started my own 18 day compost pile based on the DVD to see if I can remotely get the results he does.

    So, using his 25 carbon to 1 Nitrogen ratio I went out to build a 1 cubic meter compost pile. I had small broken sticks through out the carbon sections along with dead ferns, and other carbon material. Sadly the bulk of it was straw, very fluffed up.

    Geoff, in the video used an extremely varied source of manures for nitrogen including roadkill and humanure. I did not.

    My sources were zoo poo of over 85 animals, compost tea already made from kelp, compost, horsetail and comfrey & some green cut grasses for the yeasts and insects.

    As I made the 1st 1/3rd meter of fluffy carbon material I was happy, and then I tried to fluffy place the N, and then I got confused. My carbon material basically sunk under the weight of the zoo manure, so I placed another 1/3rd meter of material on top again, and yes the same thing occurred.

    I figured at this point to add some freezer burned salmon and more zoo manure. Yes, it sunk under its own weight again. I did this 3 more times. Each time adding zoo manure, and occasionally adding the compost tea. ((Total tea used was 6 gallons)).

    Yesterday and last night it lightly rained, less then 1" of rain, and I left the compost pile exposed. Today the rains are continuing and I covered it with a tarp. In 4 days I will turn it for the 1st time.
     
  2. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Keep us update on your progress. I don't think there is any way that you can defeat gravity and stop the pile from dropping as you add heavier ingredients. Turning it will aerate it.
     
  3. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    Just wait till you turn it a few times. For me, the manure tends to roll away from the pile (horse and cow) and you are constantly picking it up to get it back in the top for some heating goodness. Most of the time I kicked and squeezed it into the edges.

    I'm still sceptical about his finished product. I believe that there may have been some creative editing as such. In one scene (from memory), there is a close-up of some compost which the viewer is led to believe is the finished product, but later the gentleman with the wheelbarrow is forking on a rougher-looking compost which is how my 18-day (mine was longer than 18) looked.

    Paul Taylor and his method, which mine was a conglomerate, composts for longer and I did come across a comment that Paul made about that 18 days is not enough to get a fine product. What I'm saying is, don't be worried about your pile.
     
  4. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Exactly which / what scene did that happen because I did not see nor take away the view you did from the Soils DVD, 18 day compost subchapter.
     
  5. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Yeah I am not worried by it at all. It is an experiment based off of a DVD after all. I am unsure I got my ratios right to be honest, but when I turn it on Friday I will find out and I guess adjust accordingly. 25 to 1 visually is not as easy as you might think. It is something I need to work on after making a few thousand piles like Geoff ;) I think I am only in the mid 100's still for a lifetime total.
     
  6. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    Just flicked around the video then.

    Just before the 'Building a Compost Heap', he runs his hands through the compost that was under a green tarp, just after the scene with red-topped fungi. That compost is very fine. I'd assume longer than 18 days. The scene with the wheelbarrow/fork/guy is rougher, probably closer to 18 days.

    Take a photo of yours at 18 days, I'd like to see how fine it is.
     
  7. Dzionik

    Dzionik Junior Member

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    Isn't it cold there for composting??
     
  8. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Due to climatic shifts and the 3 rivers Dam in China still effecting world climate, my climate yesterday had a high around 65f degrees.

    I actually have flowers that have come up already. Yesterday in town I spotted Camellia bushes in full bloom.
     
  9. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    I think you mean the one where he shows the hyphae, and I believe that is the wood mulch that was sitting in a pile just prior to that scene. Just prior to the red-topped fungi is the one he says is what the end result should look like. See image below.

    ((image coming, finding a place to upload to is annoying as hell))

    https://picasaweb.google.com/115656388611523333718/Feb102012?authuser=0&feat=directlink
     
  10. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Well, IMO, I failed. I do not think it got hot enough, i.e. I didn't have enough manure.

    I was able to use it as enriched mulch under a lot of my fruit trees though, so I guess it isn't all bad. :)



    I do plan to try again when I source some hotter manures.
     
  11. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    It's never a failure - it's a prototype!
     
  12. Dzionik

    Dzionik Junior Member

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    Told you... it's cold.
     
  13. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    50f is not cold.

    Wet mostly already composted manure was "cold"
     
  14. Dzionik

    Dzionik Junior Member

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    Sorry bad joke ...But seriously, it is cold:), it is natural cycle, you can do it only when its 20-30 C. Cold manure (if its not fresh) need time to shift from dormancy to mesophilic to termofilic (sory for my bad english). And this is how it works in nature, you can speed up but must put some thermal energy in it.
     
  15. Try Reason

    Try Reason Junior Member

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    I've heard of people using an electric blanket to keep their home brew fermenting but never for a compost pile!
     
  16. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    For what it's worth, real science requires results like 18 days to be able to be repeatedly true when using the exact same ingredients under the exact same conditions, and how can we do that? We've all got something different going on.

    You know, camelias are supposed to be blooming in winter and early spring :)
     
  17. Ellen

    Ellen Junior Member

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    Hi all, I also did follow Geoffs video, in the hot African weather. But 18 days according to me is a dream, it's still very rough then. My piles heated up wonderfully, and all, but took way longer to really become usable compost.
     
  18. TheDirtSurgeon

    TheDirtSurgeon Junior Member

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    I saw the same DVD. I do believe what Lawton did can be done, quite easily, just as he says. I haven't done exactly the same thing, but I have learned enough, and seen enough, in my 20 years experience in composting, to know that he isn't just talking out his ass.

    Decomposition of organic material is a powerful thing.

    I haven't tried composting a cat or a goat, but I have composted used motor oil, along with newspapers, old cardboard, cedar shavings, and all sorts of other crap that fits thru my shredder. Chicken shit, cow bones, carrot peels... anything with carbon in it.

    Yes. Motor oil.

    However. Like I said, I've been doing this for 20 years. I don't expect everyone to be able to compost anything and everything immediately. It's an art form.

    I have had a pile pouring out smoke in 24 hours. Summer, mind. But smoke nonetheless.

    It's all up to the craft of the one composting. I don't doubt Geoff for a minute.
     

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