Making compost in a compost pile or compost heap is a very simple business. You gather together the ingredients into one large pile and turn them on a regular basis. The volume of material used allows the composting process to generate heat and so you are hot composting. The size of your pile will depend upon the volume of material you have to process. When considering how to build a compost pile you need to think about the volume of material available to you at any one time and the amount of space available to you. As a minimum you are going to need at least 1 meter cubed of material in one go plus the space to leave and turn the pile. Regular turning keeps air in your mixture, which in turn allows the microorganisms to breathe and keep composting therefore space to turn is essential.
- If you produce more waste material than 3 cubic meters look at the section covering windrows.
- If you produce less waste material and still want to try hot composting consider using a tumbler.
To successfully produce hot compost in a compost pile you will need plenty of space
- Space for storing your raw materials prior to building the pile,
- Space for your compost pile
- Space for turning.
The size of space will of course depend upong the volume of material you have to process. If working with the minimum 1 meter cubed of raw materials then you are probably going to need approximately 3 - 4 meters square of space, preferably with a soil base as opposed to concrete or tarmac.
In addition to this you will need;
- A garden fork, essential for turning the compost
- Waste fruit, vegetable and plant matter. These are nitrogen producers, also known as "greens", which contain water.
- Waste paper, card and woody matter. These are carbon producers, also known as "browns", which absorb water.
- Air - compost production is an aerobic process, the microorganisms, bugs and beasties manufacturing your compost for you need to breathe. Turning keeps the air content higher than when cold composting.
You may also need;
- bins or bays to store your greens and browns until you are ready to build your compost pile.
- additional bins or bays to store your finished compost
Perfect compost is created if you use a 50/50 mix of greens and browns combined equally throughout your compost pile. So to manage this you may want to keep the greens and browns separate until you are ready to build your pile. You should not need to add any other ingredients however if the pile does not appear to be heating up you could add some urine or a compost starter. You will need to turn the pile regularly until the raw ingredients have transformed into compost. This is necessary as it adds air, without air the compost heap contents will gradually compact and go cold. As your compost forms the pile will reduce in size, this is natural.
After 6-8 weeks the composting process should be complete and the compost ready to use. If you are not ready to use the compost immediately it can be stored successfully for up to 5 years.
If you need any more information about hot composting or how to build a compost heap please ask me.