Composting is a bacteria- and insect-laden process because both are needed to break down organic materials. Most bacteria and insects in compost help new plants. But occasionally, disease, parasites or fungi can infect compost and soil. Sterilising the compost is the only sure way to protect your new plants. Small batches of compost can be loaded into a foil baking pan and sterilised in a 200 degree oven for 30 minutes. But this brings dirt into the kitchen and kills the beneficial bacteria and enzymes as well as the parasites. Sterilising outdoors is a much easier option.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 7 wooden sleepers
- Black plastic
Clear a level spot in the yard. The chosen area should have sun most of the day.
Lay four of the sleepers in a square.
Fill the square with compost material such as grass clippings, dead leaves and vegetable peelings. Stir the composted mix well with the shovel.
Pull the black plastic tightly over the compost. Fold over the edges and nail them into the wooden sleepers using the hammer. Leave the compost covered for six weeks. The healthy bacteria breaks down the organic material, and the sun adds heat to kill parasites.
Lay the remaining three sleepers in a square using one side of the first compost heap as one side. This allows you to start the next compost heap while the first is being sterilised.
Tips and warnings
- If the second compost heap is filled before the six weeks, simply cover and add three more sleepers and create a third heap. This can be repeated as often as necessary.
- Compost naturally becomes very hot. The black plastic absorbs the sun's rays and adds to the heat. Temperatures can become high enough to burn skin. Use care when uncovering a sterilising compost heap.
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