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Thread: Compost heat

  1. #11
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    Re: Compost heat

    Gary,
    That is interesting material...thanks I am trying out a compost/worm system this winter
    and if I can feed it as it breaks down the heat should be manageable.

    A man out in Oregon that designs large flow through worm bins told me that keeping these
    elevated worm bins heated in the cold is not the issue he said keeping them cool is the
    tricky part. These bins are so active due to the MASS of worm activity and biological activity that they are really a "living machine". I treat my large worm harvest systems that way, they are
    a machine that eats fuel and produces a by product. It is all very exciting and as one farmer
    friend told me "we don't know anything new, we just know more about it".

    Jeff
    ""we are what we eat""

  2. #12
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    Re: Compost heat

    Hi Jeff,

    Your work with worms is very cool and your insights much appreciated. I'd love to see more pics of your operation.

    I'm currently working on a 12' x 20' AP greenhouse design that will have a modest compost and worm area. I've just finished building a rolling compost bin made from two 42" rounds from a wooden cable spool. This sits an a sort of railroad track made from 12 foot 2 x 6's. You just roll the bin from one end of the track to the other to mix and aerate. Just got it loaded up with leaves and garden waste and it works pretty well. When the greenhouse is finished, the track will sit on two rows of cinderblocks stacked two high. This will be filled with horse manure and bedding to feed a population of worms. These, in turn, will help feed the fish.

    I'm hoping the compost will add some heat to the greenhouse, or at least act like a sort of thermal mass to help even out the temps. I hadn't thought about the worms themselves generating any heat, but I suppose that makes sense. I've taken pics of the rolling composter, but haven't DL'd them from the camera yet. Will try to post them in the near future.

    BTW, I found a link for some of the New Alchemy publications for those who are interested:

    http://www.thegreencenter.net/pubonline.html

    Some of the material is scans of the original published journals in PDF format. These files are quite large (150MB) but make for some interesting reading.

    Gary

  3. #13
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    Re: Compost heat

    Yea Gary I will get some pics..its nothing special but I like to test things out at a low level of construction sometimes before "getting into it" ya know?

    I wanted to keep in touch with you on that rolling bin...cool idea. I had a 55 gallon plastic drum once
    that rolled on some simple cart wheels and all I had was fresh cut grass,used coffee grounds and some shredded paper and leaves. It reached 160/F in 3 days and I video taped the steam, maybe I can find that and post it up.

    I saw an old frig laying on it's side and looked at the coils in back...thought that would be a good
    way to run some line in a compost bin and pump water though it "slowly" as not to cool it down. I need ti set up something like that in the winter and see what I can do with it.

    Jeff
    ""we are what we eat""

  4. #14
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    Re: Compost heat

    LOL. Man after my own heart: Backyard Scientist. Ain't it fun?

    You shouldn't have any problem using a heat exchanger in a compost pile. I recall a Mother Earth news article back in the 70's where they simply put an an old galvanized water tank inside a big compost pile and it worked pretty well. Just have to watch the temps in the pile so it doesn't get too low as you draw off the water.

    Here are a few pics of the compost roller. These were 42" wide and made from inch and a quarter plywood. The framework is 2 x2's and the outside is 1/4" galvanized hardware cloth. The door is just another strip of hardware cloth with a strip of galvanized sheet metal along the edge. It's attached with 4 loops of wire as a hinge, and two springs from an old desk lamps to hold it shut.

    I get the cable spools from a construction company that does work for the telecom industry. I have one set that's 8 feet wide and about 3 inches thick. I've also gotten some 48" plastic ones from the local cable company.

    Gary
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  5. #15
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    Re: Compost heat

    omg I love this...lol 8 feet wide and about 3 inches thick??? Wow I want one of those!
    You know I like the screening...very cool and with that amount access I am wondering if I might
    try this idea because I get allot of food waste from neighbor. Might try out a small we verison
    using some scraps I got. Wife is about tied to be fir with me wheeling contraptions out the
    door of pole barn But it is not my fault I was born this way.

    Some how I need to find a spot for my 4' high 90" diamter round plastic tube that is sitting in her parking spot. I could tell her to park "under it" but I would get a swift kick in the shin from her

    Did business in another town today with my worm castings...YES!!! My first real retail sales deal
    since I started the worm casting harvest system. I am excited because we are not making ends
    meet and this might be a HUGE boost for wife and I She is so patient with me but I need to make
    it happen and FAST or worms and I are toast!

    pics coming soon I promise!
    ""we are what we eat""

  6. #16
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    Re: Compost heat

    congrats & good luck Jeffw

  7. #17
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    Re: Compost heat

    Jeff,

    Congrats on that first sale. Here's to many more to follow.

    Here's a pic of one of the 8 foot rounds. Takes 4 or 5 people to pick it up. Just about the right size to hold your 90 inch plastic thingie. The closer one is about 6 feet across, and there is a still assembled plastic spool with a broken edge sitting on top of it.
    [attachment=2:32up8kiw]P0005384.jpg[/attachment:32up8kiw]

    Here's a pic of one of the 4 foot plastic rounds made into a grow bed, which is sitting upside down on the stand that holds it. The wood is from recycled pallets. This bed will be filled with home-made terra preta made from compost and biochar.
    [attachment=1:32up8kiw]P0005386.jpg[/attachment:32up8kiw]

    Not to get you in more hot water with your wife, but since you are a great advocate of organic and sustainable practices, try googling terra preta and biochar to learn about this amazing stuff and it's potential for farming and sequestering carbon. Heres a link to get you started: http://www.biochar-international.org/

    I've built a pretty nice contraption for making biochar on a small scale. I plan to use a version of this for greenhouse air and water heating. Will post more pics and details if you get interested.

    Gary

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  8. #18
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    Re: Compost heat

    Rfeiller thanks for the comment

    Gary I bookmarked that site...interesting stuff...I have my head wrapped in books such as "teaming with microbes" and "Harnessing the Earthworm" OLD book but the best one so far in my book...sorta speak

    I live not far from a river, we just had the worst oil spill in my states history, the business is now going
    around and offering money to peple to sign then SHUT UP. This oil is NOT like the gulf it is refined
    and can be eaten by microbes "such as one radio talk show host likes to boast". I am trying to get people
    to try and use other products to feed grass and soil and get off that damn chemical trip! I don't care what
    they call it is it NOT natural and that is all they need to know.

    After losing so many to cancer in my family and more friends dealing with it now than ever (that never
    smoked at that) there is a serious problem in our "food,water and soil". For the kids sake we better make
    some changes now and I mean RIGHT now. It might even be too late, kids are eating crap foods plus
    they do not understand nature or why it is vital to manage it and take care of it. If this trend continues
    we are all losers including those yet to be born. At 53 it matters not to me what politics anyone has
    nor what views they have I could care less. What I care about is what I am promoting and teaching
    now. I start with worm bins and kids, but it is growing because of interest. 1 day at a time.

    Sorry I needed to rant...woke up with fire in my belly

    My camera is at another home so I need to go 60 miles and get it but when I do I will post some pics.

    Gary thanks for sharing I am sending that link to a friend that is going into farming 50 acres and
    wants to do it the old fashion way, with the Planet's sources

    peace out
    JEFF
    ""we are what we eat""

  9. #19
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    Re: Compost heat

    all winter even 5/F my worm bin/compost bin was above 100/F. It is nothing more than a 90 inch diameter plastic ring about 24" high filled with leaves (bagged from riding mower so they are chopped a bit) and now and then 25 gallons of food waste was dumped in and mixed with shovel. Worms hang out at lower levels and the top was steaming all winter. Very cool I could warm my hands easy, methane was present but not horrid. This was in pole barn but NOT closed in real tight so it could vent out to outside easy nuff. Next winter I cam using a COIL system using pipes filled with OLIVE OIL and a on off pump that can transfer the fluids IN to my shop and coil on a well that will be the radiator. Never know until you try right?
    ""we are what we eat""

  10. #20
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    Re: Compost heat

    All,

    Supposedly, the folks at "Growing Power" (www.growingpower.org) have successfully used compost to heat their greenhouses.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jV9CCxdkOng
    They don't offer a lot of information online, but there are workshops they offer. They show a heater being used to heat water for Talapia whoe by-product heat also heats the greenhouse. I'm thinking the compost is used where the cold water species are kept. Check it out for yourselves if interested.

    Spencer

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