Making your own compost can be highly satisfying to do. Before you know it you’ll enjoy the fact that your hands and clothes are covered in coffee grinds, straw and horse manure, all for the purpose of that good smelling, crumbly soil. Besides that, making our own compost is better for the environment than buying it from a source that is most likely depleting soil somewhere else.
Your trash bin will also be less full since you can put your food scraps into the compost pile. Almost all food scraps can go in except for oil, animal products and cooked food.
There is quite the science behind making compost, which can be challenging. We recommend just getting started and watching your compost do it’s thing, it will tell you what it needs. There are many different strategies, here are some of our practises.
Hot compost, a step by step guide.
1.Select a warm semi-sunny spot. It can be a bonus to create a pile next to fruit trees or at the end of a garden bed so that the soil underneath the compost pile can benefit.
2. Gather your carbon rich (brown) and nitrogen rich (green) materials.
Brown materials are for example; dried leaves/plants, hay/straw, ripped up cardboard/paper and wood chips/shavings.
Green materials are food scraps, coffee grinds, seaweed, manure or grass clippings.
It’s important to not have too much nitrogen in your compost pile. The right ratio is about 1 part nitrogen to 3 parts carbon. If you have too much nitrogen your compost pile will get slimy and not break down properly. Too much carbon and your compost pile will not get hot enough. The more chopped up your materials are, the faster it will break down.
3.Start with a layer of carbon, preferably wet cardboard, then follow with a small layer of nitrogen followed by a layer of carbon and so on.
Make sure to layer also the edges of the pile, so that your pile doesn’t turn into a pyramid.
Sprinkle some finished compost, forest soil or garden lime in between your layers. This will add and activate the microbes in your compost pile to start the breakdown process.
4.Cover your compost pile to trap the heat. With, for example, wet cardboard, jutten coffee sacks or black tarp.
5.Watch your compost pile every week, keep it moist, especially if you use black tarp which doesn’t let water in.
Turn it at least once a month, the more often it’s turned the faster the breakdown process.
Hot compost in contained area
This is the same approach as above, but within a system that holds the compost together and is more rodent proof. When having three boxes, you can always have one compost pile ready, one that you can add to and one empty where you can turn the compost in.
This system you can buy online or it can be made out of old pallets for example.
Worm castings are often higher in nutrients than compost, so when applying this in your garden it’s good to first mix it together with some compost. When using a worm farm it’s also important not to overfeed the worms. By slowly adding more and more chopped up food scraps your worms will have the time to reproduce and grow. Worms don’t like citrus and.. Eventually the worm castings and juice will come out from the bottom of the bin.
Biochard is slowly burned wood that captures the carbon inside. This is great to add to finished compost on a 1:10 ratio.