How To Make Compost

How To Make Compost

How to Make Compost: Composting Ingredients for Quality Results

Introduction:

Composting is a sustainable practice that reduces waste and enriches the soil, fostering healthier plant growth. To create high-quality compost, it's essential to understand the critical ingredients involved. This guide will delve into the vital components required for successful composting, providing valuable insights and practical tips.

This website may use affiliate links; if you choose to purchase from those links, I may earn a commission at no extra cost. Thank you for supporting this blog.

The Fundamentals of Composting Ingredients

Organic Matter

Organic matter forms the foundation of composting. This includes kitchen scraps, yard waste, and other biodegradable materials. Incorporating a diverse range of organic matter ensures a balanced nutrient profile in the compost.

Brown Materials

Brown materials, such as dried leaves, straw, and shredded paper, provide carbon to the compost pile. These materials help maintain proper aeration and moisture levels while balancing the nitrogen-rich green materials.

composting in seven easy steps

Green Materials

Green materials, such as grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, and coffee grounds, contribute nitrogen to the compost. Nitrogen is essential for the decomposition process and helps speed up the breakdown of organic matter.

Water

Water is crucial for the microbial activity that breaks down organic materials in the compost pile. Maintaining adequate moisture levels is essential for proper decomposition. The compost should feel like a damp sponge, with moisture evenly distributed throughout the bank.

Air

Proper aeration prevents the compost pile from becoming compacted and anaerobic. Turning the compost regularly helps incorporate oxygen into the bank, promoting aerobic decomposition and reducing unpleasant odours.

Microorganisms

Microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes, are vital in breaking down organic matter into compost. These beneficial organisms thrive in a well-balanced compost pile with the right combination of moisture, oxygen, and organic materials.

Temperature

Temperature influences the speed and efficiency of the composting process. Ideally, compost piles should reach temperatures between 110°F and 160°F to kill weed seeds and pathogens while accelerating decomposition.

pH Balance

Maintaining a neutral to slightly alkaline pH range (around 6.0 to 8.0) creates an optimal environment for microbial activity. Adding lime to acidic compost or sulphur to alkaline compost can help adjust the pH.

Time

Composting is a natural process that takes time to complete. While the exact duration varies depending on factors such as temperature, moisture, and the types of materials used, most compost piles will mature within six months to a year.

recycling kitchen waste into rich compost for your garden.

Bin or Pile

Choosing the correct container or location for your compost pile is essential. Whether using a compost bin, bank, or tumbler, ensure adequate drainage, airflow, and access for turning.

Layering

Layering different types of materials in the compost pile promotes a balanced nutrient profile and encourages efficient decomposition. Alternate layers of brown and green materials and water and microorganisms facilitate the process.

Turning

Regularly turning the compost pile helps aerate the materials, distribute moisture evenly, and speed up decomposition. Aim to turn the bank every one to two weeks using a pitchfork or compost turner.

Covering

Covering the compost pile with a tarp or lid helps retain moisture, regulate temperature, and prevent excess rainwater from leaching nutrients. Choose a breathable covering that allows airflow while protecting the pile from excessive moisture.

Troubleshooting

Monitor the compost pile regularly for signs of imbalance, such as foul odours, excessive moisture, or slow decomposition. Adjusting the ingredients, moisture levels, or turning frequency can help remedy issues and restore the composting process. The compost must be vermin-proof as rats and mice will invade and set up a home if the compost is ‘neglected’.

Harvesting

When the compost is dark, crumbly, and earthy-smelling, it's ready to be harvested. Use a screen or sifter to remove large particles, then incorporate the finished compost into your garden soil to improve fertility and structure.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  • What is the best ratio of brown to green materials for composting? Achieving a balanced balance of approximately three-part brown materials to 1-part green materials is ideal for composting.
  • Can I compost citrus peels and onion skins? Citrus peels and onion skins can be composted, but they may take longer to break down due to their tough texture. Chopping them into smaller pieces can help accelerate decomposition.
  • How often should I turn my compost pile? Aim to turn the compost pile every one to two weeks for optimal aeration and decomposition. However, smaller banks may require more frequent turning than larger ones.
  • Can I compost weeds and diseased plants? While weeds and diseased plants can be composted, ensuring that the compost pile reaches temperatures sufficient to kill weed seeds and pathogens is essential. Avoid composting weeds with mature seeds or plants infected with persistent diseases.
  • What should I do if my compost smells terrible? A foul odour in the compost pile often indicates anaerobic conditions or excessive moisture. To remedy this, turn the bank more frequently, add brown materials to absorb excess water, and ensure proper airflow.
  • How long does it take for compost to be ready to use? Under optimal conditions, compost can be used for six months to a year. Factors such as temperature, moisture levels, and the types of materials used will influence the composting process.

Conclusion:

By understanding the essential ingredients and principles of composting outlined in this guide, you can create high-quality compost to enrich your garden soil and promote healthy plant growth. With the right combination of organic matter, water, air, and time, you'll be well on your way to producing nutrient-rich compost for sustainable gardening practices.

Having reviewed the essence of compost and tried and failed many times to ‘master’ the art of compost-making, we are choosing a duel tumbler version. This choice eliminates some heavy turning (I’m not getting any younger) and helps keep the rodent risk minimal. The other promise of Tumbler compost stations is the speed of turning garden and household waste into beautiful soil. Gold can be much faster with a Tumbler station. One barrel can be filled, and the other maturing. This makes the dual-barrel compost tumbler the choice for My Sprout Studio’s garden.

 

Back to blog

Watercolour Flowers Workshop

Sunday June 9th, 9-12.30 At Eungai Hall, New South Wales. Details here