This 270 gallon bin usually processes a mix of shredded leaves, garden waste, coffee grounds, horse manure and if available, chicken manure. After reaching 150F twice, it is cooled and fed to the worms after this turning. Hot compost is merely for the purpose of killing seeds and pathogens. Worms do the rest, saving me the work of multiple turnings until the compost is fully broken down. By reducing the time compost is in the hot bin, less nitrogen is burned off in the form of methane gas. Worms actually increase nitrogen in the compost as they digest it and add nutritional value.
The readings on the thermometer indicate three different types of aerobic bacteria that work at different temperatures. The monophylic bacteria start the process until it reaches about 105 F degrees. Then the mesophylic bacteria get started and take the temperature to about 130 F. Above that thermophilic bacteria go to work.
We filled this bin on June 4 with shredded leaves, garden waste, coffee grounds, and horse manure. We turned it on June 8 when it reached 140 degrees. We turned again June 11 at 150 degrees. In each turning about 70% of the product reaches temps above 130F. This process kills seeds and pathogens.
This nearly finished compost is combined with finely ground biochar as it goes into the worm bin. See our post about biochar.
This product is further processed by worms for about four months, and then is put in the garden soil nearly weed seed free! This compost cycle is repeated every 6 weeks to keep the worms well fed and to produce abundant worm compost. Each time we plant one or more daylilies, we mix in the worm compost. This helps to improve the performance of our plants.
The container is taken off and set for refilling. The outside material that did not get hot enough is taken off, set aside, and added later to the middle or above inner part of the bin. The previous bottom which was cooler, now becomes the top and will achieve 150F. It takes about 45 minutes to turn this pile. Since it is on a concrete pad the cleanup is easy and no product is lost or polluted.