Hot Compost Method for Beginners


Hey Everybody. I’m back. I have to take the
first few seconds of this video and say thank you to everybody who decided to offer a donation
to me for our fundraiser to get a new computer for editing videos on. The fundraiser was
successful. We were able to raise enough to purchase a computer, and so we’re back on
YouTube. We had donations ranging anywhere from $2 to $150 and every single one of them
was appreciated. If you like, you can go back to the donation page and see a list of who
donated, but for myself, each and every one of those was precious and I want to say thank
you equally to all of them. We had over 40 different people decided that they wanted
to make a donation, so, thank you for that. So, moving on, the first thing I thought we
would do coming back to YouTube is build soil. I thought it was a good way to try to get
back into the game and show you what we really want to have on our channel. With that, I
have to give you a shout out to my friend Blake Kirby over at The DaddyKirbs Garden
or DaddyKirbs Farm. Blake is a great guy. He’s a fellow gardener here on YouTube. We
chat on the side, and I have worried him to death about making compost, to the point where
he very nicely mentioned, “Jared, you don’t need a measuring cup.” So, I don’t know
what it is about compost. I’ve done things all around my property that cost money, that
failed, that I tried again and whatever, and here I am with nothing but trying to make
compost and it’s worried me to death. I must have watched a hundred different videos, seen
Blake’s own video several different times and asked him a lot of different questions
on the side and, you know, I don’t know what it is, something about making compost, I’m
just like, “Uh, I’m gonna completely ruin this and waste my time and waste my resources,”
but he assures me that I can do it, so y’all make sure you support Blake over there for
giving me the encouragement to finally get down and actually try building some soil by
making compost. So, here’s how we’re gonna do it. I’m a very spatically minded person. It helps
me a lot to be able to see something and to be able to visualize it, and I just could
not visualize the straight pile and understand how that equated to a certain volume, so Blake
in his video and in his talks with me on the side really turned me on to the idea of going
ahead and using a wire cage. Now this cage that I’m using is the same cage that we used
early in spring to grow sugar snap peas on. I’ve cut a little bit off the top of this,
and what I now have is a 3 foot wide, 4 foot high cylinder, and that equates to just under
1.5 yards, or just barely over 1 cubic meter of volume. So that’s what we’re going to fill
and make our compost with. We’re gonna fill it with a wide variety of manures, hay and
some grass clippings, as well as some leaf litters. So, lets get onto it. So the first thing I’m gonna start with is
just a bit of hay. This is just out of a square bale that you can get from any farm co-op
or just about anywhere. If you can’t find hay, well, I say that. There’s plenty of times
a year it’s hard to find hay. But, I’m gonna start with just a nice base of my carbon,
mainly because, having not done this before, I like the idea of having a firm foundation.
And now I’m just going to start layering things. I’m gonna bring in a layer of goat manure,
I’m gonna bring in a layer of grass clippings, or a layer of rabbit manure, or a layer of
leaf litter, and I’m just gonna start stacking this up. So, let’s get on with it. So if you’re like me and you’re watching this
because composting’s not your forte and you’re kinda wondering how all that takes place,
what we’re doing here is a hot composting method, and it’s a variation off of the Berkley
composting method, Berkley being the college in California, or University or whatever it
is, and they did the studies to come up with the ratio between carbon and nitrogen
and so on and so forth and what was gonna work out best, so that you could make compost
in 18 days. And there’s just some twists and variations on that and they came up with the
volume that you needed to try to make it hot enough so that it did decompose in that amount
of time, or compost in that amount of time, and so forth. Essentially, you’re searching
for a proper ratio of carbon and nitrogen, Carbon primarily being your woody materials.
Anything from actual chipped up wood, leaves, straw, and those kind of things that are high
in carbon, to nitrogen. Products that are more rich in nitrogen, from fresh grass clippings
to manures from animals, vegetable leftovers off your table and things like that. And you
search for, or you aim for a ratio of about 25 to 1, so a little more carbon than nitrogen,
and in doing so, you create the right amount of heat without going anaerobic and get the
decomposition done in time and all that kind of good stuff. So, that’s what we’re going
for. Now Jeff Lawton and most permaculturists do a bit of a variation on this, and the Berkley
method, I should say, is a half and half method. You’re using half of what they consider a
green material, manures, fresh grasses, fresh vegetables, things like that, that are high
in nitrogen and low in carbon, and half high carbon products, and then doing the rest of
the method pretty much the same. Jeff Lawton and most permaculturists do a bit of a different
thing, which ends up giving you more nitrogen and less carbon and still producing compost
in 18 days. So, the difference is, instead of doing half and half, we instead break up
the nitrogen into 2 different areas. We say that there is an area that is specifically
manures and we say that there is an area that is specifically vegetation, nitrogen rich
vegetation, and in doing that, you say you take a third of each, so you have a third
of your brown, high carbon material, a third of your nitrogen rich material, and a third
of your animal manures. With that mixture, if you do the math, looking at it from a Berkley
side of things, you’re actually doing one third brown, two thirds green, and so it’s
a bit of a variant, but we’re still going to adhere to all the other standards the same.
We’re gonna rotate the compost the same amount and so on. So, I’m gonna keep stacking these
things up, and one thing I’ll bring you in on, in the middle is we’re gonna do an activator,
which is a way to kind of get the heat really started inside of this, so that it starts
the compost off a little bit quicker. So, I’ll bring you back when I get to that point. One thing I’ll be using a lot of is this.
These are the cleanouts from our two rabbit cages, and you can see there’s a good bit
of hay mixed in this. Rabbits aren’t the most efficient eaters when it comes to hay and
a lot of it falls onto the floor along with their manure, but rabbit pellets are highly
desirable and will incorporate into this well, and this helps a bit because it’s kind of
pre mixed, so I’ve already got a certain carbon to nitrogen ratio on here. Brown to green
material, so, you’re gonna see me dump several buckets of this into our compost pile. I apologize for nearly forgetting to mention,
you do need to keep this wet. We’ll talk a little bit more about just how wet later,
but if you wait until you have all your material on before you start putting water on this,
you’re gonna have a heck of a hard time trying to get it as moist as it needs to be, so,
every few inches of material here, go ahead and give it a real good soaking. Now you may
be asking yourself, you know, is there a correct time of the year to compost? And the best
answer to that is that you could compost any time in the year, but the best time to compost
is when everything’s starting to naturally decompose in your area. So here in the temperate
North American climate, we’re wanting to do this mostly over winter, because that is when
decomposition is happening. The leaves have fallen from the trees and Mother Nature is
decomposing things all on her own, our herbaceous plants have grown, died back, fallen to the
earth and are decomposing and so on. In making compost, what we’re doing is speeding up nature,
so the best time is when everything’s normally decomposing. You also have the added benefit
that it’s not gonna be as hard to make sure that your pile stays wet. Ideally I could
put this off for another month, but I want to show you what I’m doing before you may
need to do it yourself, and I want to have my first practice run out of the way before
I really put this into full swing throughout the winter, because I have a lot of compost
that I want to make. I am getting a lot of seepage coming out on
the ground, so I’m gonna stop there and keep layering my pile. The single largest source of nitrogen you’re
probably going to have on your property is poultry manure, and I’m not gonna use very
much, because I wanna try to maintain that correct ratio of carbon to nitrogen and I’m
not using materials that have a very much high carbon. I’m gonna put a little bit of
wood chips in, more for diversity than anything but I’m not gonna be putting in a half a cubic
yard of it or anything, so I don’t need to worry about trying to bring down the carbon
so much with such low nitrogen, but this is still going to be a great way to really start
off the compost pile, make sure it gets good and hot, and starts cooking in place really
well. One of the high carbon ingredients that I’m
using is some leaf litter from off the forest floor, and I’ve thrown this through my leaf
shredder, so that it has more surface area, so the microbes and things can work on this
better and it’ll decompose more evenly and quickly. So this is one of my high carbon
items in the compost. One thing we can do to add a little bit of
a boost and get the compost pile started off quickly is add an activator. And this is either
gonna be some sort of an animal product, like I’m also gonna use a chicken that passed away,
or it can be certain vegetation products, like this plant, comfrey. So what I’m gonna
do, comfrey is a great plant all around. It brings up minerals from way below the soil
surface and those minerals are gonna get added back to our compost. It’s not the only plant
that we can use for this, we could yarrow as well. I believe there’s some others that
just aren’t coming to mind, but we don’t want too much of this. We want it to be less than
5% of the overall pile, so don’t think that just because it’s an activator and a good
thing that you need a lot of it. As the saying goes, you can have too much of a good thing.
So we’re gonna use a bit of comfrey and we’re also gonna use a chicken that’s passed away
as an activator in our compost. Okay, so here, you can tell we’re at a half-way
point in our pile and so what I’m gonna do is just take this comfrey and just gonna tear
it up into some pieces right into the center of the pile. That’s what we’re looking for
for our activator. We want it to be right in the center of the pile. Think about it
maybe if you build fires or if you make coals for a charcoal grill, you want that hotspot
right in the middle. That’s what you’re trying to do, is speed up that hotspot. Excuse the
gruesomeness, I’ve got a dead chicken here that’s a couple days old and we’re gonna add
her right to the middle. That’s one of the nice things about this compost. You might
think, well Jared, you’re gonna have chicken bones in your garden. That’s not really very
appetizing, but I won’t. You’ll be surprised here in just a couple days, even on the first
turning, day 4 we may not even recognize that chicken. Certainly by day 6 we shouldn’t see
any of her at all. So with our activator in place right in the center of the pile, we’re
gonna complete this pile all the way up to the top making sure we keep it wet throughout.
The purpose again of this activator is to start off the heat, to get a real quick boost
of heat right away to the compost pile. Ok, well, there it is. You can see we’ve got
it piled 4 foot high, 3 foot wide. That’s about almost 1.5 cubic yards of material.
We’ve wet it down throughout the entire process. We’re gonna cover it to try to retain the
moisture and the heat, and we’ll come back in 4 days and show you how to pull this off,
turn it back inside out, so that we can take what’s on the outside, put it on the inside
and so on. I’m gonna thank my wife in advance. She told me that if I would help get this
started, she’d make sure that even if I got pulled away for something else, that it would
get turned at the appointed time. One of my biggest fears about starting this hot composting
method is that after 4 days from the initial pile, on day 4, you rotate it, and then every
2 days after that, all the way up to day 18, you rotate it again, and just the way life
is, I’ve been worried that on the day I’m supposed to rotate this around that I’m not
gonna be available, and I’m gonna miss a day, and she’s helping me saying she’ll make sure
that it gets done no matter what. So here we are, wish us luck and we’ll bring you back
and let you know how the whole process goes. Thank you all for watching. We’ll see you
next time.

44 thoughts on “Hot Compost Method for Beginners

  1. I don't remember where you are but my advise to you is keep bermuda grass out of this any way you can if bermuda gets into your compost it is unusable. you won't be able to sift out the pieces and it will suck the nutrients out of it.

  2. sounds like Geoff Lawton's course had a huge impact, soil fertility is where it starts.  Im working on turning hard pack sandy soil into fertile land.   Compost is key.

  3. How To Make HOT Compost

    Great video from my friend @Jared Stanley who I recently had on @AWorld4Change TV with @Kristin Canty, Director and Producer of Farmageddon. I suggest you subscribe to his channel if you want to learn about Permaculture, Farming, Gardening, Homesteading, Animals, etc…

    Link to that show: http://bit.ly/FarmPolicy

    I'm planning on doing a very similar process with a compost pile on our property as well. I'm curious Jared…using this process, how long will this pile take to break down?

    What kind of a compost pile to you like to use/build?

    #CompostPile   #Compost   #GardenTip  

    ps. Welcome Back!

  4. Jared, glad to see you back at the videos. Great video. One thing comes to mind as I watch, is if the cage were square then it would be easier and less time consuming because you could utilize the bucket of that sexy tractor in the background.
    Nothing against hard work,
    Whit

  5. I am back to producing videos! Whoo Hooo! Thanks for all the support! Check out the return video here: I'm BACK – Thank You! – Let's build soil health!

  6. Hey Jared, to be honest you would have been WAY better off spreading 99% of the manure right on the garden, and then using the straw, leaf clippings, and the remaining 1% of the manure to make supplemental compost. You have what most gardeners consider the BEST compost, and that is composted manure. Rich in bacteria and will attract the worms to loosen your soil. Regardless of what you do, you will be fine, and your soil will look amazing. Great video. 

  7. wehey! I was just thinking of you this morning and wondering how everything is over at J&J acres. Brilliant that everythings working out for you.  And compost is SO easy! I can even make it successfully on my balcony from kitchen scraps. And if I can do it on a balcony, I'm sure you can do it out in the fields… I have faith in you!

  8. Hey Jared, good looking compost pile you have started, I know it's going to work for you. I am so jealous of your rabbit manure, but the chickens will have to be the manure I rely on.   I throw a good amount of straw in their pen and after a month or so, it goes on the compost pile, along with kitchen scraps, leaves, grass clippings, garden waste, add water and some extremely clay dirt, and this is an ongoing process. I always have compost to use. I use my nose and eyes to determine water or carbon need. It's a great cycle. Just my way of doing compost since 1978, wow, lol.

  9. I keep looking at that beautiful new looking Kubota tractor and wonder why you don't compost in a large way. 
    Welcome back Jared

  10. Sorry, another comment after watching the whole video…if you are too busy to turn the pile, forget it for a day and take your wife out for a nice dinner;-)  This tip was in the community building section of the design course…or it should have been.  Anyway, it is only compost and it will happen on its own if you don't get there.  Peace be with you…

  11. Don't worry so much man.  Just take all the appropriate scraps you have, toss them in a heap or bin and forget about for a while.

  12. Jared, Welcome back.  Fantastic post on composting.  Makes me remember my evolution as a garden composter.  I started a few years ago measuring everything out as the literature describes, but eventually the lazy gene took over and has left me with 4 methods of composting.  (1) Garden waste/Grass clippings/Shredded leaf pile outside in a cage and turn every few weeks.  (2) Kitchen waste in a compost tumbler. (3) Vermicomposting. (4) Manure piles built in the garden then spread out in the spring prior to planting, after they have composted. I build these in the actual beds so that any leachate stays in the garden and not my compost pile site. 

    A few questions/comments though. 
     (1) I'm a little concerned about the chicken in the pile.  If your pile does not get hot enough for long enough it may not kill off all of the pathogens.  The amount of manure that you placed is more than enough to get this pile started.   
    (2) I'm not sure what the woodland creatures are like in Mississippi, but in my area, that chicken wouldn't last more than 2-3 days before a raccoon, skunk, or worse (opossum) tears that pile apart until it gets the prize.  I hope the cage deters them and doesn't create an easy access ladder for them to get in. 
    (3) Do you have a compost thermometer?  I would be interested in seeing what temperatures your pile gets to in the different layers.  I'm especially curious if the chicken layer is different that the manure layer. 
    (4) I think another reason to measure the temps would be to know when to turn.  I wouldn't turn the pile if it is actively cooking, you may lose the benefit of the heat.  I have always understood that you turn the pile to reactivate it when it starts to cool, not when it is hot. 
    (5) Please do not take any of my comments as criticism, actually they are just the opposite. I really enjoy your channel and sometimes YouTube comments can be taken in a different context than the original intent.  I assure you, I have nothing but positive things to say about what you are accomplishing here.  I am really, really interested in seeing the results of your endeavor. 
    (6) I have nothing against chickens, I have a few myself.  Just not sure I want them in my compost pile 🙂

    Thanks again, I can't wait to see your updates. 

  13. It is great to see you back Jared.
    Blake is right, dont stress about the compost. Nature has been doing this for a long time 🙂
    There are some basic rules but the the compost can be forgiving. If something happens a day or two later it wont affect the end result much at all.

  14. Welcome back Jared
    There is this guy that does "drunken composting" in which he adds coca-cola, beer &  ammonia in the water he waters the pile with while stacking it. You also can add pee to it, to start heating it up quickly. Cola for the sugars, beer for the yeast, ammonia  (or pee) for the nitrificating bacteria. The pile looks magnificent :o)
    Cheers

  15. Nice to see you posting again Mr Jared & that was a great clip to start the ball rolling  🙂 
    Have only ever done slow composting but might have a crack at the quick method after these batches are sorted..
    Cheers mate & all the best.. 

  16. Can we have an update about the one breeding pair of rabbits you had left after the free range experiment went awry? Would love to know if they've kindled during the summer and what your current stock is like? Are you going to be doing some buck trading to prevent inbreeding since your stock got down to one pair? Have you figured out how many rabbits you'll need to breed in order to keep breeding stock at consistent level and have a steady amount of production for your freezer?
    My town says I can't keep chickens, so I've thought about getting some hutches and breeding up some stock to supplement my grocery budget but still considering the logistics of the start up and how many bucks and does I need to start with to have a healthy stable breeding population.

  17. Good that you're posting again. Great video. I don't have a lot of time to spend so I'm pretty relax with my composting. May take a bit more time but each Spring I get my fill for the garden.

  18. Hi Jared, Welcome back my friend. I love using the composted manure. It sure will make some plants grow! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Rick

  19. Alright, I finally had time to watch the video. Thanks for all the kind words 🙂 Your compost pile looks great! That should work just fine. I look forward to the next video showing how it all turned out. 

  20. Hey Jared – congrats on getting the computer mate. Glad to see your back making videos again. I'm also glad I'm not the only one who's a bit scared of composting. I'm going to have to get into it one day and I'm sure I'll probably kick myself for not doing it sooner. Right now I just mulch the beds and apply manure on top of the mulch. I'm eager to have composts for starting plants in pots.

  21. What a great video on compost.  I'm a super lazy composter, I should probably pay a little more attention to the ratios. Thanks for sharing at Simple Lives Thursday; hope to see you again this week. 

  22. Thumbs up for this video. I've used the same method and it works very well. You might also want to consider a compost thermometer for monitoring temperatures. That way you turn based on the pile temperature instead of solely on how many days have passed. It'll give you more insight and control…. But yeah.. I agree with prior comments. You're going to have fantastic soil with all that chicken manure. Best of luck !

  23. My back hurts just thinking about turning the pile… don't do it!

    There's no need whatsoever to turn your compost pile.  Let it sit, let it cook.

    Also, no need for the activator…the materials themselves have thermophilic bacteria waiting to get to work… you've added the right stuff and it'll do the work for you.

  24. Hi guys. I viewed this vid Thursday as this year i started composting too for the first time. My heap is probably half that size but today i went out and relayered some more ingredients into it. Approximately three layers of brown leaves, green leaves, rabbit waste and manure and, and kitchen scraps each. As we are in the dead of winter in uk and everthing is frosted up i left a bottle of hot water in the middle to hopefully stir up the bacteria and get things going. Thanks for sharing this video. There are so many ways to compost and im hoping this layering method will work best for us during the cold months. James 🙂

  25. Are you adding a dead chicken into your compost? Won't that bring in the bad bacteria? Sorry I almost forgot to say thankyou for a great video and info,,, thankyou………………………………….Ken.

  26. Thanks for the video.
    We were wondering, you said you were using hay, would straw be an acceptable option?
    Anyone know?
    Thanks

  27. Amen on the water!!!!  LOL   Also, it can mold if you over water it…..I use a mop bucket- 3 gallons- per set of layers I throw on……I live in the deep south so…I have to watch the mold here…..It's either really hot or really cold weather where I am.  I think composting is just trial and error for each person.  God Luck!!!!!

  28. Thank you for sharing your gardening video's!!~ They are a great help, so on that I'll say Happy Gardening and God Bless!!~

  29. Also what you people who are doing these vids for John public is we dont have the manures that your guys have accessable.

  30. A simple and effective activator (think microbes) is to simply use a shovel full or two of good garden soil for every layer group. This method described in "Rodale organic gardening basics" works great. I've been using this method for a decade and a half. Works every time. No mess, no fuss!

  31. when you say carbon are referring to carbohydrates???
    because I use cooked rice to fire up my bio furnace

  32. Hello, I'm from Algeria, and I'm from gawkers your activities, please give me some flowers and roses, which grow or breed in cold climates or in winter

  33. You have created a great pile that should give you good results. The key is always in the ingredients that you put in. Better ingredients makes better compost. The manures will likely provide enough of all the nutrients you need but you do want to keep the compost balanced and PH neutral, not excessively acidic or alkaline. And you want to insure you get the micro nutrients you need too. I like to add a little wood ash from actual burnt hardwoods (not pine!) to my piles. Depending on the tilth of the soil to which you will be applying the compost, you may want to even add some green sand to the compost to loosen soils with lots of clay. Blood meal and bone meal are also good additives to any compost pile. Crushed egg shells add a lot of calcium to the compost which is also needed.

    Don't be afraid to toss in any items suitable for composting Kitchen and gardening waste materials make excellent compost material. Coffee and tea grounds or shrimp or crayfish shells add still other kinds of additives needed for the pile. Fish tank water and waste is also a wonderful compost pile material. I consider fish waste to be even better than animal manures.

    You will be exceedingly glad you tried composting once you see what it does to your garden soil and how it helps your plants. Be sure to post another video when that pile is finished to let us keep up with how it turned out for you. Not everyone has goat and rabbit manure so i wold like to see if that helps make the compost faster. It should.

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