"Compost is proof that there is life after death." ~Unknown
Making compost is primarily about making good humus. A secondary benefit is that it helps recycle waste. Additionally, making my own compost saves money as buying commercial compost becomes expensive when large quantities are needed.
Ideally a compost heap will be big. At least one square metre by one metre high is needed. This will help the pile generate enough heat to kill any weed seeds.
If you haven't made compost before you will be amazed by how much the pile reduces as it breaks down. As a general rule, a one metre square by one metre high pile of compost will break down to about 30 cm high by the time it is ready to use. This will make about one third of a cubic meter to spread on your garden. This amount doesn't really go that far if you are living on acreage or have a big suburban garden.
|Shredded paper added to the compost pile|
Now, I am not always strict about my composting methods, and I do use several different composting bins to store organic matter. I have tumbling compost bins to store food scraps. I have a black compost bin that sits on the ground which often only contains brown grass clippings . These grass clippings still break down over time.
Whenever I can though, I get serious about composting. When this happens I make a proper layered compost pile.
So my layers are mostly brown (carbon) and green (nitrogen). I do also add manure pellets as I don't have any manure to collect on site. I also use some soil or preferably compost as a starter in the pile. Other things I use are bran and molasses as both seem to help the pile break down quicker for me.
So what sort of things do I use for the brown content? Leaves, dry grass, newspaper, shredded paper, mulched branch cuttings, lucerne, sugarcane mulch. Things of that sort.
For the green I use freshly cut grass. Sometimes I may add hedge and shrub trimmings that have been put on the ground and run over with the mower. Some people add kitchen waste to this layer but that is something I choose not to do. Animal manure can also be added to this layer.
Don made our compost bin from recycled fence panels. We had been gifted these old fence panels by a local farmer a couple of years ago.
If my compost heats up to somewhere between 50 and 65 degrees Celsius, most weed seed and pathogens should be destroyed. My aim is to create dark, friable, sweet smelling humus. By sweet smelling I mean fresh and woodsy.