Composting: How It Works

Composting: How It Works

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Published by TOP4 Team

Can anyone make good compost? Some say that to produce good compost, you only have to throw all your rubbish in a heap and let it rot. This is perhaps the oldest method of making compost and it will work eventually, provided that you have a good mixture of different materials in the composting heap. Actually, any material of plant or animal origin can be used to make compost.

This method can be very slow, however, and although the usual range of microorganisms acts in converting the rubbish to compost, conditions are often not ideal and the heap can take 10 or 18 months to mature.

Here are the elements needed in composting.

Correct temperature range
Positioning the compost pile or compost bin in a place where it will obtain plenty of sunlight can help, especially in areas with cold winters. But if your heap is large enough and is made correctly, it should generate its own heat. Make sure that the heap doesn’t become too dry during the initial activation period and in hot summer periods.

Once activated, a composting heap goes through various temperature changes. This is because different organisms are present in the various temperature regimes. These organisms have high rates of multiplication and can cause compost heaps to reach temperatures above 60°C, which is high enough to kill many weed seeds. However, since all parts of the heap may not reach these temperatures, it’s just as well to keep weed seeds out of composting material.

Moisture is essential for the organisms in the compost pile. When building a compost heap, moisten each layer as it is placed on the heap. If the compost gets too dry or too wet, the microbial activity will cease. Protect open heaps from rain during wet weather and check the compost heap regularly.

Adequate aeration
This is needed to provide oxygen to the organisms in the compost heap. There are many ingenious ways to add air to your compost heap.
- Place an open-layered design of bricks at the base of the heap to provide air channels.
- Tie stakes together or make tubes of plastic, reinforcement mesh or rolled-up chicken wire to form tubes. Place these vertically into the heap.
- Use plastic piping with holes drilled in a spiral design along the full length of the pipe. These can be inserted vertically into the heaps and are particularly useful in compost bins because the extra air speeds up the composting process.
- Turn over the compost heap at least once every day and you will greatly enhance the composting process and aerate the heap.

Composting is just one of the ways to maintain your garden. Consult one of these well-trusted gardening businesses to help you take care of your garden.


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