Learning to build a compost heap will not only serve to recycle food and garden waste, but also provide a reliable resource that will improve your soil's texture while increasing the health of both display and edible plants. Read on to learn how to build a compost heap.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Save money by making your own compost container. Ideally, it should keep your compost waste warm and the vermin out.
Collect some old wooden pallets, and use them to build square frames that are about 8 inches high, and which can be stacked atop each other. The advantage of stacking frames is to ensure that, as the compost heap reduces in size, you can still access it simply by removing a frame. Likewise, it can easily be stacked up higher as you build the compost heap higher. This way, you'll have a regular turnaround of well-composted material and a fresh pile that you can keep adding to.
Stack the first few frames to begin to build a compost heap.
Make a Compost Container
Begin to build your compost heap by adding waste and other organic material to it. Garden waste such as woody shrubs and grass cuttings will likely make up the bulk of the material in your compost heap. It may surprise you that about 40 per cent of your garbage can contents are suited for home composting.
Add raw foodstuffs such as vegetable peelings, rinds, seeds and other vegetable remnants.
Cut or tear natural fibre such as cotton and wool fabric, as well as paper and cardboard. These need to be cut or torn in relatively small pieces.
Avoid adding fish, meat, dairy products and cooked foods, because these attract vermin.
Toss in nail and hair clippings, egg shells, tea bags and coffee grinds.
Save and use animal bedding--saw dust or paper bedding--from animals that don't eat meat, such as hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs. Poultry waste and bedding can also be used, but do not use cat litter or dog waste, though.
Collect and add animal waste from large vegetarian animals such as cows, sheep and horses.
Select the Materials to Use in Your Compost Heap
Use a proportion of equal parts soft, green, quick-rotting products and tougher, woody, slow-rotting products. This will ensure that a will have a well-balanced, soft textured and sweet smelling compost heap. While all the different kinds of vegetal material are important to the overall quality of your compost some, such as grass, will rot faster than the rest of the woody shrubs.
Keep in mind that two households and gardens make for a far better compost heap than just one because of the wider variety of waste material.
If you (or your neighbour) have any nettles or comfrey in your garden, add them to speed up and aid the rotting process.
Balance the Proportions of Vegetal and Waste Materials to Build a Compost Heap
Turn the contents of the compost heap after a few weeks. Follow the steps below to learn how to do it.
Take down a single wood frame and place it on the ground next to the others.
Take some of the compost from the top of the heap and put it inside the single frame.
Stack the second frame on top of the first and once again take compost from the top of the original heap and put it into the second. This way, the top of the heap ends up at the bottom and the compost at the bottom ends up at the top. This also helps to aerate it.
Use the layers of the compost box as suits your needs the best. It may be that you will move only half of it at a time or you restart a second, smaller box.
Make this a regular routine so that you will always have a constant supply of well-rotted compost, as well as a place to keep adding your new waste matter.
Use your compost after a few months. With the right mix of vegetal and other waste material, you will have a well-aerated, sweet-smelling compost that's ready for your garden.
Manage Your Compost Heap
Tips and warnings
- Using too much green vegetal material without the balance of woody organic material will result in a compost heap that's messy and smelly. If it does get that way, just add some straw, woody shrub cuttings or scrunched up cardboard.