How to compost

A compost is a great way of getting rid of organic waste, both garden waste and household waste. Composting is a natural process so it is almost impossible to fail. But of course you will get better results if you know at least the basics about composting.

Composting can be done in various ways, some ways are more efficient than others. But in essence all you need to do is to provide the right ingredients and let nature do the rest. That said, although composting is a natural process, there a quite a lot you can do to help nature.

First you need a place for your compost. You can buy a compost bin or create your own compost heap. A ready-made compost bin has a couple advantages which often is worth paying a little bit extra for. After all, a compost bin typically lasts for a very long time. You can also use worms, vermicomposting, which is a very efficient form of composting. Apart from the bin, you don’t need anything else except for maybe a garden fork for turning the compost.

The temperature in the compost pile is very important. The colder it is, the longer the breakdown process will take. If the temperature inside the compost is close to the freezing point, the breakdown process virtually stops. Once the temperature in the compost is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit the composting process is going fast. Ideal temperature range is between 130 degrees and 150 degrees. If it gets too hot, some beneficial organisms may find it too hot and leave or die.

The moisture is also important. If your compost becomes too dry, the composting process halts. If you think your compost pile is too dry, it is best to sprinkle a little bit of water onto it every now and then.

A pH-neutral compost needs oxygen. The breakdown process works also without oxygen but the compost will be acidic (pH-negative) and it will take longer time and smell more. The level of nitrogen is maybe the most difficult to get right. Too little nitrogen slows down the compost but too much nitrogen and the compost starts to produce ammonia which smells badly.

Only put organic waste into your compost. You need to put in both green stuff, nitrogen rich ingredients, such as vegetables, grass cuttings and tea bags, as well as brown stuff, carbon rich ingredients, such as paper, cardboard and leaves. Nut shells and egg shells are ok to put into the compost but they take a long time to break down. The waste does not need to be chopped into small pieces but small pieces will break down quicker than large pieces. Never put any meat or fish into the compost.

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