This instructable will teach you how to make compost, great to dig into veggie gardens or any garden bed. Compost helps the earth by recycling food scraps, but it also helps plants thrive, trust me, they really take off with compost!
Step 1: How to Make Compost
Compost is made by piling up organic matter (leaves, kitchen scraps, cow sheep and chicken manure, lawn clippings etc.) and helping them to break down. If you occasionally turn it over with a fork it will break down faster but some just like to leave it. Firstly, how does all of this stuff get broken down? Well microorganisms come in and eat the organic matter and turning it into droppings, worms also like compost and have the best droppings, worms are welcome in a compost heap! this is how leaves and kitchen scraps are turned into soil. Now you'll need to know what can't go into compost. Things like onions, citrus, cat and dog faeces, plastic, dairy, meat, and sticks can't go into compost. The majority of these things are harmful to microorganisms so will take a lot longer to break down, some things like plastic can't break down, things like sticks are too dense and take way too long to break down and things like meat and dairy create odour and attract pests and rodents. Some manures are good for compost, the best of which being chicken manure, it contains a lot of nitrogen which is great for the soil, bedding straw mixed with chicken manure can go straight in to the compost and makes a great mix.
Now, how to make the best compost:
For the best mix you need a 50 50 balance between nitrogen and carbon. Nitrogen being in kitchen scraps, grass clippings, manures, and freshly pulled weeds or green leaves, carbon being dead dry materials such as dead leaves, straw and similar materials. if you get a half and half balance between these two types of materials you will get the best results.
Step 2: Compost Heaps, the Traditional Way
This is a compost heap, where you put all of your garden waste, kitchen scraps, chicken manure etc. in a big pile and use a fork to turn it over, this method is good, but can be an eyesore for some people.
Step 3: Compost Bays
This method involves bays made up using railway sleepers, scrap wood, bricks or similar materials. With this method the compost is more contained and a bit neater and the whole idea involves moving the compost between the bays, for example, one bay is to put new material in, once that breaks down a bit you move it to the next bay, then after that is broken down more you move it to the final bay to finish, therefore creating room for new material to go in while the older material is still breaking down, this means that you can make a large amount of compost at once and you have a continuous supply of it.
Step 4: Neat Pile
This is another way of making compost, it is similar to a pile but is contained in an enclosure made of railway sleepers, timber, bricks etc. This is much less of an eyesore than just a raw pile so can be put out in the open or used in a small garden.
Step 5: Compost Tumblers
This is a common method for small gardens or people who are starting out composting. It involves a plastic bin on a frame allowing it to 'tumble' and is meant to be easier than using a shovel or fork to turn it over. I find that tumblers are much more difficult than using a fork, the compost is at one end and you have to push down the other end to get it to turn over, and sometimes when the bin is full this is a very difficult task to accomplish. These can be quite costly too which is another setback. I wouldn't recommend them.