Making compost is one of those things that’s an art and a science. But believe me, it’s really not that difficult especially once you’ve decide what type of composter you are going to use. Even if you don’t follow the strict layering and greens to browns ratios (which I don’t), you can still get perfectly good compost.
Making Compost: Quicker and Easier
Here are some general tips that will help you out:
You don’t want a bin with too many or large holes; the compost will dry out at the edges.
You don’t want a completely closed bin either (unless you’re using a Bokashi system) or else your compost heap will not be able to breathe.
If making compost in your own wood enclosure make sure the wood isn’t chemically treated; especially if using pallets – use the ones with the letters HT (heat-treated) not MB (chemically treated). You don’t want all those chemicals leaching into your compost then into your garden.
If using wood to make an enclosure for the pile, line the bottom with bricks not wood. Because the wood on the bottom will eventually rot.
It’s better if your pile sits on soil and not a hard surface. This will help it get colonized faster by the necessary critters and prevent smelly and staining buildup on the floor.
Making Compost: Trouble shooting compost problems
If your heap becomes too wet or even moldy; add in some browns (paper or cardboard) to soak up the excess moisture.
If it’s too dry throw in some water and some more greens.
If your heap is smelly it’s probably not getting enough air and has become anaerobic. Try adding in crumpled newspaper or pieces of cardboard so more empty space is created and the heap can breathe better. Since paper and cardboard take longer to break down they will keep their shape longer allowing air pockets to remain.
When you first begin making compost by creating your pile or filling your bin, it will take a little bit of time for it to get started. If you don’t want to use a compost activator you can just add in some regular soil from your garden to help it along.
For faster composting:
Layer your browns and greens for more effective and faster composting. Add a few inches of each at a time.
Your heap needs to keep moist, but not too moist (it will grow mold and smell). Check it weekly and add water as needed.
Chopping everything into small pieces that you put in the heap will help speed up the composting process.
The more worms you have in your heap the better. To get them in there just thrown in some soil (with worms) from your garden.
Once you’ve made your first batch, making compost will become easier. When starting a new batch leave in some finished compost with plenty of worms. This will get your next batch off to a good start.
Cover any exposed food in the pile with leaves or paper to prevent odor and not attract pests or animals.
Making compost shouldn’t be viewed as a chore. Honestly, I just basically throw the stuff in (food scraps, paper, cuttings, dried leaves etc.) as I have it and in no particular order. At the end of the day (ok, months) I still get compost. It may take a little longer but I’m ok with that.
I just turn it about every couple of weeks or so and take a good look at it every time I add stuff to it. If it’s too wet, too dry or stinky I take action if not, then I just leave it alone to do it’s thing.
Be sure to check out the next installment of the composting mini series: Ready, Set, Go Use Your Compost