Friday, November 06, 2015

compost temperature

Knowing the temperature deep in my compost pile gives me an idea of how well decomposition is going. This is a fresh pile about a week old made mostly of moist chopped up leaves (mostly maple) along with some other plant materials roughly mixed in.

The outside temperature is in the low 13C/55F. As shown by a thermocouple 24 inches into the pile, roughly in the center, temperature is almost 127F!

I will come back to the pile throughout the next few weeks to record the internal temperature. I won't leave the expensive thermocouple and meter outside. I will bring the two out when I want to check, inserting the thermocouple like a probe into two hollow tubes I have embedded in the pile.

I wonder about the amount of heat produced by the pile and how long it lasts? Would it be possible to extract from the pile to, for example, heat the shed nearby?

click pic to enlarge The pile is about 1 meter wide at the base, two meters in length and about 24"/60cm high about a week after being initially piled up.

The height of the pile is about 10cm lower now than a week ago. I expect that the pile will continue to fall as decomposition proceeds but less quickly. The pile will also be packed by the snow cover. The snow cover will act to insulate the pile. I don't plan to turn the pile until Spring.

I am using plastic electrical conduit for tunnels into the core of the compost pipe. I have measured off from the end with the distance (in inches) to the end of the pipe. There is a wooden plug hot glued into the inner pile ends.

The tubes were difficult to push to the desired depths. The cut up leaves had already compacted enough to make for heavy pushing. I will insert corks into the outer ends to keep the water and bugs out of the tubes when they don't have a thermocouple in the and will also avoid some heat loss.

Thanks for your interest. George Plhak, Lion's Head