Quick Guide on Composting Materials
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Published by TOP4 Team
What composting materials should you use? How should you use them? This guide will answer those questions.
The smaller the size of the individual pieces of materials placed in your compost heap, the faster it will mature. Small pieces of material have a relatively larger surface area than big pieces, so organisms within the compost have a larger area to work on and will break down the material into compost at a much faster rate than in compost heaps built with large pieces of material. To break down the materials, you can use mulching machines, which are available in a large range of sizes and prices. Mulching can be done with other cutting implements, such as rotary mowers with or without catchers.
Placing the materials
The way the materials are placed in the compost heap will influence its successful operation. Materials with high moisture content, such as wet grass and fresh vegetable matter, should be mixed with another material that can absorb the excess moisture — for example, shredded paper, straw, or sawdust. If you use large pieces of materials, spread them evenly through the heap, or place them at the base of the compost heap if you’re using an open-air composting method.
To have a nutrient-rich compost, you should put nutrient-rich materials into the compost heap. To add nutrients to your heap, sprinkle on fertilisers. Moisturising the heap with a liquid seaweed will also provide micronutrients. Some forms of seaweed have been found to contain nearly all the free elements known to exist — including gold!
Here are some which you can use effectively:
- Recycled plastic bins and 200-litre drums
- Home-made wire mesh bins (place recycled paper, cardboard or plastic around the outside of these bins to enable them to compost quickly in cool weather)
- Bins made of polycarbonate or long-lasting plastic
- Kit bins
- Wooden bins
- Rotating bins
- Ordinary plastic bags and thick, industrial-strength bags
- Rubbish bins converted to compost bins by cutting out the base
- Composting toilets, which are highly recommended as they do not contribute to groundwater and soil pollution like septic tank systems
All of the abovementioned bins have advantages and disadvantages. Compost bins which absorb heat, have good aeration, or are designed to be easily turned are more efficient, but providing you have the correct carbon-nitrogen (C/N) ratio, moisture, warmth, and material that is of a small particle size, it’s possible to compost in an ordinary plastic bag and obtain compost within a few weeks, even in winter.
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