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 Post subject: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:15 pm 
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I cleared some space of overgrown grass/weeds in the former garden. I forked out several good helpings of compost and worms from my EarthMachine compost bin and placed on the garden as a base. I then mowed and bagged and created a huge heap on top of leaves 'n grass clippings.
This is similar to what I've done years past. This heap will heat up slightly and provide warmth for the worms well past what otherwise would be the case.
I forgot to get a picture...I'll see about getting one tomorrow.

(Hope I'm not 'talking' to myself here?)

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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:41 pm 
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So here's a photo of the heap. It settled quite a bit overnight.
Attachment:
IMG_0007-w.jpg
IMG_0007-w.jpg [ 58.07 KiB | Viewed 2326 times ]
On the very bottom is the compost with the worms.

Here you can also see that the next day photo,
Attachment:
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IMG_0009-w.jpg [ 47.89 KiB | Viewed 2326 times ]
the internal temperature of the heap is about 120-125F. The worms will hunker down away from the heat and live where it's comfortable, then move towards the warmth as weather turns cool.

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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 4:11 am 
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Looks good. We created similar heap but with few boards around (it was unsuccessful attempt for a raised bed hehe)


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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:17 am 
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'Back in the day' 6 or so years ago I documented this experiment at some length:
https://thegardenforums.org/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=2802&hilit=vermiculture%2Fvermicompost+windrow
It still makes for a half way decent read.
It was pretty successful and produced a lot of vermicompost. Of course, there's upsides and downsides to that scale. It's almost pointless unless you have a large garden or are looking to sell vermicompost....and since most folks would have to ask what vermicompost even is, it would likely be difficult to sell! Also, it's not as convenient as the small indoor bin or the 'just out the back door compost bin' where the kitchen scraps go.
Still, each has it's place. This is especially true in the fall when there is an abundance of fallen leaves and grass that can be collected from the yard and put to good use.

The first time I did this, I used heating tape or wire a friend gave me. He had used it one winter to keep ice from building up in his gutters. I just strung it around on the ground and covered with the grass/leaf mixture. I don't really know how long it lasted as at some point it just stopped working. However, because of it's composition of grass and leaves, the pile heated on it's own. But since it was not turned, the cooled some instead of reheating like a turned pile would when making thermo compost. This allowed the worms to work well into December which is something here in Central New York.

Well, all for now. I'll try to stick in here for awhile...I feel bad the forum has gotten so quiet these days. Like me, I guess life has taken the old die hard vermicomposters elsewhere.

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Last edited by Abbeysdad on Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:18 am 
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the pumpkin wrote:
Looks good. We created similar heap but with few boards around (it was unsuccessful attempt for a raised bed hehe)


So why did your raised bed fail?

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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 3:16 pm 
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Heap temperature today is 150F. Hope the wigglers found their way to the cooler fringe areas.

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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 8:09 am 
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Well the heap temperature has maintained 140F which may have caused the worms to head down into the cooler soil regions. I thought that by not turning, the temperature would have fallen off after a couple of days. Must be there were sufficient greens to be keeping this thing cooking.

The forum continues to be ghostly and perhaps I'm 'talking' to myself? I wonder where all the vermicomposters went?

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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:04 pm 
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Hey AD, still here, just busy is all.

Sounds like you build one heck of a fine compost pile. I am experimenting with the same concept, but using bins made from pallets rather than free form like you have done. I have a small yard & my neighbors are not too crazy about looking at a compost pile from their back window.

I build the pile, let it cool down some & then add worms. Center will stay hot for a good long time & figure the worms will crawl around the edges where it's cooler & work their way into the center as the night temps drop & the center begins to cool down. Add some kitchen scraps every once & awhile as a treat & to help the pile keep warm.

Guess I'll find out next Spring how well it worked out. Hope you keep hanging around. You have lots of good ideas & tons of great experience we can all benefit from.

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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:15 am 
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Hey Buddy,

Good to 'see' you again. The process worked well for me in the past. It's really the only way to keep worms 'working' as the temperatures drop and winter approaches. I was surprised the one year how long it stayed warm. Now this year I wasn't expecting it to get so hot and hold there. Usually a heap like that, especially w/o adding water would only get to 110-120F and w/o being turned would fall off in a few days. This is staying hotter longer. Perhaps more grass in this mix.

I'm gonna keep the bin going in the basement too, even though the turtle doesn't much like them scrawny little worms (loves the NANC's though so have a holding bin of them also!)

I only have 3 acres, but no neighbors really to complain so I can heap away to my hearts content and no one will notice or object. This time I put it right in the old garden. I think I just might plant again in spring. I have mixed feeling about it...like the cartoon with the two rabbits in the foreground and the sweating gardener in the background - one rabbit says to the other "you know, you gotta wonder, what's in it for him?"

lol

Later,
-Mike

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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:42 pm 
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Hey AD: I'll never be able to make a pile such as yours due to my property size. But I am curious, could you not just turn the centre of it w/o going all the way to the bottom? It will re-heat providing extended heat periods, and the worms can escape to the edges where it's left un-turned. How many worms (approx.) are we talking about here?


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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:32 am 
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titan3 wrote:
Hey AD: I'll never be able to make a pile such as yours due to my property size. But I am curious, could you not just turn the centre of it w/o going all the way to the bottom? It will re-heat providing extended heat periods, and the worms can escape to the edges where it's left un-turned. How many worms (approx.) are we talking about here?


Hey titan3,
(one small step for man...?)

It's been over a week and the thermometer still measures 140F in the center so no turning necessary although it seems cool enough low and outside. I wouldn't gain anything by turning and actually, I wish it would cool down some and save some heat energy for later...but there's little control over thermophile bacteria - they're off to the races and I'm just a bystander holding a ticket.

To be honest, I have no idea how many worms. I raided my EarthMachine compost bin harvesting worms in order to setup an 18g bin in the basement. There were a plethora of worms in there. Many days later I scooped off a couple of bushels of that same compost to serve as the base for the heap. I saw plenty of worms, but didn't look closely enough to begin to approximate numbers....so it's anybody's guess how many worms and egg cases were in the mix. But even a good handful is enough of a seed to get things going before winter and to restart in early spring. I think the beauty of this heap method using grass clippings and fall leaves the result of fall cleanup, is that it's maintenance free. Cover a bed of worms with the bagged material and walk away and let nature take it's course. The pile heats and partially decomposes providing an extended season for the worms. Eventually the pile goes dormant, but comes alive again in the spring.

Although the scale with respect to heating can be an issue (as a hot compost heap typically needs to be at least 3 feet square), smaller scales can work too if you have the right nitrogen to carbon mix.
I'll never forget an early 18g bin where I mixed coffee grounds into peat and soon after the worms were introduced, the bin heated to 110F-120F! Needless to say the worms had nowhere to go and sadly became part of the process.

Even so, a regular bin under the kitchen sink, in the pantry or in the basement... a bin or two behind the garage...a worm factory or home made stack system on the back porch or deck - it's all good.

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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:37 pm 
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Hey AD:
........ one giant leap for mankind.

A pity this site is on snooze mode. There is so much good info here and I guess by reading past posts, most questions have been answered.


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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:39 pm 
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titan3 wrote:
Hey AD:
........ one giant leap for mankind.

A pity this site is on snooze mode. There is so much good info here and I guess by reading past posts, most questions have been answered.


Then that explains it.... nothing left to talk about! lol

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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 1:16 pm 
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The heap is still pretty hot and largely pretty dry down under. There are some worms around the perimeter, but I only found a few.

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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 4:16 pm 
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Doing a variation on AD's "all natural" compost pile with worms. Built 2 3'x3' piles using leaves, coffee grounds & horse manure. Both have heated up & are holding steady at 125 F. Dug a small depression at the top & put in each of them an empty worm factory tray. Added some food scraps & some worms & covered with cardboard & more leaves. Hoping to see them come up to feed during the warm hours of the day & then move down into the pile when the temps drop at night. Piles should be dense enough to keep from freezing even when they cool down more. And when the temps get to the point that it's too cold to feed at the trays, they can feed upon the pile itself. By Spring, I'm hoping to have a good crop of worms & some really nice compost.

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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:08 pm 
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Well Buddy, don't be too surprised if you have a lot of finished compost, but don't find all that many worms until later in the spring when the castings hatch. I'm not recalling where you're at, but here in CNY, winter is hard on the herd.

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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:22 pm 
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Morning AD,

Located in eastern part of VA. Winter here so far has been fairly mild with only a few really cold nights. Herd is doing well in the compost piles. Making sure to keep their trays filled with food so that the decomposing food source gives off enough heat to keep the worms warm at night. And if it heats up too much, they have lots of space under the food trays to escape too until the tray cools off.

Collected a car load of old pumpkins from my neighbors to feed to the worms & they are really working through them. Should have a good crop of juvies come Spring.

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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 3:06 pm 
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Great, the squirm just loves punkin, prolly cause it gets so mushy.

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 Post subject: Re: a new 'heap'
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:50 pm 
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Hedging my bets now. The nights here in VA are starting to drop below freezing, so have brought in 3 of the smaller bins just in case the weather gets really bad. They now occupy a small corner of my unheated mud room. Temps stay around mid-50s in there so everybody should be happy.

Keeping a close eye out for vinegar flies to make sure they don't get into the house. Putting the wet stuff (fruits & veggies) into the outdoor bins & feeding these guys drier stuff like corn meal, alfalfa pellets & well aged horse manure with lots of dry paper shreds on top to help keep everything in check.

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