Step 2: The Science Behind Composting

Before we start, we must understand what happens during composting.

Composting works very similar to a forest like ecosystem. The living cycle of green plants, fungi, bacteria, worms and other microscopic life steadily converts dead organic matter into nutrient-rich food. These organisms are called decomposers, which you may have learned in a science class. The result of this breaking down is a nutrient rich compost which is extremely healthy for your plant.

In my opinion, our main goal in composting is to replicate the actions that occur in an everyday ecosystem, except that we are speeding up the process and benefiting from it.
I have a q, why are there 2 "3's" ?
Nice instructable!<br /> <br /> Is&nbsp;there an ideal C/N ratio to&nbsp;feed&nbsp;the bin with?&nbsp;Or it&acute;s something&nbsp;more empirical?
Im curious, what type of wood did you use? I used pine in mine but then someone told me that the type of wood we use in the container will affect the acidity of the compost. Do you know something about that? Which wood would be better to use?
"Great idea..... thx!!"
Nice! A quibble: the smaller the box, the smaller the pieces of brown. Twigs will decompose, but it takes a while unless you clip them down to the size of your little finger.
About how many worms do you use?
For this mini compost bin, I would suggest .5lb of worms.
I have heard that you should not use red wigglers in areas where they are not native, as they will push out, or take over they other native worms.
Interesting. I just started a project where I plan on creating boxing exactly that that one to use for a mini tea garden on the back porch of my apartment.
What plants do you suggest using this compost with?
Well, I am not much of a horticulturist, but I would think that you could use it with any plant. Do some research and check out your plants' pH, and then adjust and add other nutrients from there.
great instructable. :)
Why not dog feces? My g/f's father uses dog waste on his garden and his tomato plants are twice the size mine are!(and mine aren't bad for this time of year..) I was just wondering if there was a reason for not adding dog waste, as we have two furry little deuce-machines at our house and we use their waste in our barrel composter all the time without issue. Seems ideal for dog owners.
Though there are definite reasons to avoid certain kinds, it is nevertheless possible for the waste of pretty much any animal to be used as fertilizer, including human, dog, elephant and tiger. But that does not mean it is always going to be beneficial, useful or safe for general use. Grazing animals - cows, elephants, sheep, camels, rabbits, horses - herbivores in other words, produce waste which is far more useful and safe for fertilizing as it is composed of almost nothing but organic plant matter. Tigers and dogs and humans, by contrast, have very high acid, high fat, low nutrient waste which, though may work on some plants, is generally not going to work well for most applications. Because of the typically high levels of meat we and they consume, it also has a much higher risk of carrying or attracting disease. Even pig manure is less than ideal as they frequently eat meats and processed food. The use of dog feces as manure may work on certain levels but personally I would steer far away from doing so - like humans, dogs are carriers for all sorts of nasty stuff. It's crap you really don't want in your garden. Ever see what happens to grass when a dog drops one in the yard? It kills the grass underneath. Ever see a cow patty lying in a field? It has grass and flowers growing out of it. That's my take anyway.
There is always the concern on pathogens in the feces of any animal, but especially those eating meat and/or highly processed foods. Most dog food fits both of those descriptions.
Wonderful idea, but how would one keep raccoons out of this? My worm compost bin had to be reinforced akin to Fort Knox, with lots of bricks on top. (Yes, lots of air holes). Any ideas on how to ground compost with these nosy bandits around? (Raccoons LOVE worms, and any dirt that smells like food for that matter). Also any ideas on how to separate worms from the wonderful soil they make would be most appreciative. Thanks in advance
how long does it take to make the good soil?
I'm wondering this too... I really like this instructable. I've been wanting to do some kind of composting, but all the stuff you buy seems too big/difficult/cumbersome for what we'd realistically be able to do at this point. This one is small & seems easy to deal with. Voting & intend to try it!! :)
Thanks Browncoat!
It's agreat idea to compost where you are going to plant, since a lot of nutrient goes into the soil beneath any compost arrangement that sits on the ground. Having a smaller bin like this also encourages vermiculture, worms eating the garbage/producing worm castings. Generally though, for fast composting, the pile should be near 3 feet high and wide, for faster aerobic decomposition... but the heat in the first stage of the pile prevents worms from getting in on the fun until the pile cools back down. So depending on if you already have healthy soil with a good worm population, or whether you don't, choose one method over the other: big pile 3x3x3 feet for soil with few worms, smaller piles for soil with lots of worms. Good idea though, everywhere I have had a compost pile, stuff just explodes out of the ground for years afterward. Compost absolutely rules.
i liked that you had alot of descriptive pictures and described it well, i'll vote for you
Cool, my sister and i were JUST talking about growing veggies, i think i'll use this to make soil for them.
Nice! For my compost I just use a few poles with chicken wire around it.
Nicely done!<br/>+1 rating and vote.<br/>Those worms look delicious.<br/><br/><sub>Kidding.</sub><br/>
When we got our first batch of them, I was extremely grossed out. They are so squirmy!

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