How to Make Perfect Compost
It is very easy to make the common mistake, like most people do that compost making is about piling up food scraps and garden waste into a compost bin and leaving there for a year or three!
This method will eventually form compost but it will take a very long time and usually the final product will be inconsistent, smelly and compact. If you really want to make the perfect compost quickly and efficiently there are a few things you will need change about your approach to making compost.
Fundamentally there are four main ingredients that go into making perfect compost: Greens, Browns, Air and Water. Greens are nitrogen based products and browns are carbon based products. Successful compost making relies on the correct ratios of green materials to brown. The correct ratio is debated over articles and the internet when really it is much more important to actually have both in your compost, you can create compost with a 50/50 mix of green to carbon. I have always allowed my green material dehydrate in a separate area before adding to my compost bin which means it shrinks by 75% before I add it to the bin. I use a formula of three parts carbon to one part nitrogen and found that has always worked very well.
Green or nitrogen material is materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, annual weeds. Brown or carbon based materials are materials such as wood chippings, cardboard, paper, straw, leaves and saw dust. Although there is a wide range of things you can compost within these two spectrums it is important to try to break down these raw ingredients into as small as possible particles so the microbes and bacteria can coat all organic matter easily.
Try to avoid adding pine needles, dog or cat droppings, treated timber products, glossy paper and sticky labels to you compost bin, these do not break down well and add toxins to the compost. One of the biggest challenges for gardeners is finding enough brown materials to add to the compost mix. A good way to deal with this is buy a garden chipper and use pruned hedges and branches to create a base for your compost. Try not to add large loads of greens all at once these can decompose without oxygen and become a sludgy soupy mess.
This is where air becomes very important in creating great compost. It is important to layer your materials into your compost gradually and turn your compost to oxygenate it. The microbes and bacteria that help to break down your compost pile need oxygen to complete the composting process. Try to resist the urge to cram in masses of material compacted your compost bin minimising air within your compost.
The last main ingredient is water; water is vital for life anywhere on the planet but no more important as in the compost heap. All the bacteria and microscopic creatures breaking down organic matter need moisture to work their magic. It is important not to completely drench your compost however as this will lower the oxygen content making your compost stagnant.
When you have all the correct materials and elements in your compost mixture the compost will heat up as the microorganisms get to work. A well constructed compost bin can reach temperatures of 65 degrees Celsius, when the compost starts to cool down you can turn it again until it ceases to warm up as much. This is when worms can come in to finish the composting process.
It is a good idea to sieve the finished compost placing larger particles back in the pile for further composting down. This will leave you with rich, fertile, organic compost for use in your garden. If you follow these simple stages and rules you should never have a problem with your composting ever again. Happy composting from composting composters.com