Well, this is where the heartbreak happens. After only two weeks we had to disassemble our Thermal Bin. Not because the temperatures had dropped but rather because we noticed that the free mulch was infested with red spider mites. They had laid low when we were shoveling and moving the stuff, but a little after a week we started to notice them crawling everywhere. Turns out to be a good thing that we didnt get it plumbed in but not for any of the reasons the plumbers gave for not helping.
Once things have settled down, we plan to try again. In the mean time, taking it apart we did learn a few things.
- Check the mulch before you use it even if you are told its pest free!
- Our test pile was larger (maybe 600 gallons) and temps were around 150 degrees for the full week we let it run. Size matters.
- The outer ~4" of the pile will be much less active so minimizing surface area is also important. You can really see that in this picture we took during disassembly.
- Most people use a metal drum to build an AD so thats what we did. Afterwards we were thinking we MIGHT have been better off with a smaller plastic drum since we designed a low pressure system. Smaller AD means more room for compost at the core where the excitement is.
- The t-shirt ties weren't adequate to keep the tubing in place and level. Maybe bailing wire?
- Do cover the pile with something that will hold in moisture.
- Insulation is also a good idea. Maybe one of those swimming pool covers?
- You dont need to add water to the bottom half when building the pile. It will get plenty on its own.
- Its does work! 100 degrees is nothing to disregard.