The art of compost
The key to a successful organic garden is a friable soil full of compost. If you want to do it at home, gere are the simple principles.
Choose your bin. The classic kiwi is the 3 square open fronted boxes , often made of lod pallets, each one about the 2 metres cubed. This needs to be big enough for the heap to heat up and not loss all its heat to the sides.
You want a mixture of ‘green’ ingredients. Nitrogen rich, like food waste, vegetable peels, hay, grass clippings, garden waste. My rule for food in compost is the leftovers from your kitchen that you would not consider eating yourself. This gets rid of the problem of rats trying to get into the bin. The edible scraps can be worm binned or Bokashi.
Then an equal or greater amount of ‘brown’ ingredients. Fresh leaves, coffee grounds, newspaper strips, peanut shells, sawdust, straw, fruit scraps, bark, pine needles, tea bags, dryer lint, eggshells, hair.
Ingredients I won’t use. Treated wood shavings, glossy paper and weeds that have seeds on them. The heat of your compost might not be high enough to kill these.
At the bottom of the pile. At least 10cm layers of twigs or other material that will let air through. Getting air and moisture through the compost is essential. Then put in 10cm layers of green then brown ingredients right up to about 1.5m high. Each layer can be watered jut enough to make it damp but not soaking wet. Then sit back and wait for it to heat up.
The 3 bin system means that you can turn the compost in to the bin next to it, making sure the outside material ends up on the inside this time and gets a good heat up too. The third bin can be used to store the materials you find before you make a fresh pile.
Other types of compost bins. Each have their own pros and cons. Some of the large plastic based one you can feed from the top and they get pushed down chamber by chamber until you bring finished compost out the bottom. These often act as giant worm farms too. With compost piles you don’t have to bring in compost worms, their eggs are everywhere and in the right conditions they just turn up.
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