This blog is about my garden located in Melbourne, Australia, where summer heat and long periods without rain can make gardening a challenge. This blog is the gateway to a series of my blogs showing you how I deal with these conditions................5th February 2017.
I use the Berkley method of making compost. It has 3 main features which separated it from cold composting processes.
A batch of compost can be made in about 18 days.
It generates heat during this 18 days, sufficiently high to destroy unwanted weed seeds.
This heat also kills or disables plant pathogens which may have got into the compost heap on infected plants.
The Berkley process requires a compost heap of about a cubic metre of carbon rich mixed with nitrogen rich organic waste. This volume takes longer to accumulate than is acceptable in a small garden like mine, so I have adapted the technique to suit a smaller batch of about 400 litres.
The higher volume is needed in a free standing heap
so the outer layers can insulate the inside of the heap to enable
thermophilic microbes to break down the compost at high temperatures in
the order of 65C.
To mimic the heating effect of the larger heap we can insulate a much smaller volume of material using a home made insulated bin. To get the required level of insulation, I used 120mm thick polystyrene foam inside the roof and sides of my bin.
The bin's construction allows the walls to be easily split in two after the roof is removed. It can then be relocated without disturbing the contents, reassembled and the compost tossed into the relocated bin aerating it on the way.
The heat loving bugs in the heap are aerobic, and the oxygen in the heap must be replenishing every 2 days. I use a stainless steel thermometer with a 500mm probe to keep a check on the heap's temperature.
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