Compost is obtained using all sorts of leftover organic materials. The best compost is obtained by keeping air, moisture, and temperature ideal within the mix of materials. This manual is aimed at composting in a compost bin and informs you on which materials to compost, and how to manage air, and moisture. This should result in an optimal process where the temperature within the heap of compost can rise to as high as 60 degrees Celsius (140 Fahrenheit).

Step 1: Construction

When constructing a compost heap, diversity of materials and aeration are the main elements to keep in mind. Temperature and the amount of moisture in the heap can be adjusted at later stages and need time to develop after construction of the heap.

Starting the heap
Start the compost heap with a layer of several decimeters (about a foot) of coarse materials, such as large branches. These help aerate the lower parts of the compost heap, which will become quite dense during the composting process.

The actual compost heap consists of a mix of so called green and brown materials. Green materials provide the initial heat in the heap, are typically moist, and rich in nitrogen. Examples of green materials are fruits, vegetables, fresh grass clippings, and coffee grounds. Brown materials provide the fibers in the heap, are dry (or dried up), and rich in carbon. Examples of brown materials are autumn leaves, dead plants, weeds, and sawdust. Materials with the right mixture of carbon and nitrogen, like manure, straw, and hay, can be used interchangeably with green and brown layers.

Create a mixture using 1-3 parts of brown material on 1 part of green material. This ratio has been proven to result in a good initial level of moisture, and also starts up the composting process which will generate the needed heat for the bacteria which turn your materials into compost. Mix the brown and green materials so carbon and nitrogen can interact with the bacteria.

Closing the heap
Close the heap using dry materials. Flies are usually attracted to the more moist parts of the heap of compost, and in particular to food scraps. Make sure these materials are mixed well inside the heap and close off the heap with for example some fall leafs.

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