Hints for a Good Compost





Introduction: Hints for a Good Compost

About: I make K'nex guns, specializing in semi-automatic, RBG-Slingshot hybrid systems which i use in most of my guns. Note: I am not responsible in any way for any damage, injury, or death caused by my Instructab...

Compost is very good for plants. Unfortunately it doesn' t always work like it should. Here I have written some hints for making a good, healthy compost.

Step 1: What to Add (And What Not to Add)

For your compost pile to properly decompose into a proper compost it needs to contain the proper ingredients.

Things to add to a compost pile:

-Paper/Cardboard (Not waxed)
-Garden waste (Avoid weeds with seeds and rhizomes to prevent their spread)
-Coffee grounds and Tea leaves
-Eggshells (Cleaned from the yolk and egg whites)
-Kitchen waste

Things that shouldn't be put in compost:

-Egg whites and yolks
-Dairy products
-Manure (Some is OK to put in compost but some may have parasites)

Step 2: Container and Care

The container which contains compost should have openings for proper aeration. The process of composting is an aerobic decomposition process. If the compost doesn't get enough air a anaerobic decomposition process might happen which is rotting.
Also for a compost pile to properly decompose it needs to be moist for the micro-organisms which do the composting to decompose the pile. This means that in dry weather watering may be needed. Although water is needed too much of it may get rid of oxygen in the pile letting unwanted anaerobic decomposition to happen.

Step 3: Helpful Herbs

Composting usually takes a rather long time but there are ways to make the process faster. Some herbs such as Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) can speed up the decomposition process. One small finely chopped leaf of the Yarrow plant can speed up the decomposition of a whole wheelbarrel of compost. Also Camomile when put on a compost pile it promotes its decomposition.

Step 4: Other Ways of Speeding the Process Up

There are yet other ways of speeding the decomposition process up such as:

-Adding old compost will add more of the micro-organisms that are needed
-Adding fertilizers, manures, or other things rich in nitrogen
-Adding worms
-Good aeration
-Adding some saprophytic fungi

Step 5: End Product

Once all the micro-organisms in the compost pile with your help decompose all of the matter you've put in it you'll have an natural and organic compost which will help all of you plants grow big and healthy.



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    19 Discussions

    I was always told to pee in the compost as this will speed things up. Not sure why.

    2 replies

    Actually, urine is Urea, which breaks down into Nitrogen. BTW, this is also why female dogs (in heat) burn the lawn; their urine is super high in urea. But if you dump some water on the spot right after she peed, it will dilute the urea and stop it burning the grass.

    I see how that could help. I think urine is high in nitrogen containing chemicals like which tend to "warm up" a compost pile by speedily decomposing which raises the pile's temperature and promotes decomposition.

    Thanks for the tip on adding the Yarrow or Camomile, I didn't know that it would affect the composting process time. I will make an effort to try this with mine..

    You can add meat, dairy and grease ... but they need to be added to the hot part of the pile or they will attract rodents. Please don't attempt to refute this until you've actually tried it (as I have) with a hot pile. I promise you that no self-respecting rat will stick his nose in a hot pile (160 F. or better).

    ANY manure, including human, can be added to the center of the pile and parasites / pestilence will NOT survive. Where the manure CANNOT be used is as a side-dressing in its raw state. If you are not comfortable with using some manures for fear of parasites, just let the pile age for a full year -- no human parasite can survive a full year outside of a living body. Heat, cold and ultraviolet will all take a toll and the combination is deadly.

    Check out the "humanure handbook" by Jensen (DAGS) for the actual facts on this stuff.

    Someone suggested uploading a photo. Here's proof that I know my stuff. This is not the hottest my piles usually get ... it's just the first photo I came across ... 170 degrees F. for 2-3 weeks at a time is not at all unusual. That is well above autoclave temps for lots longer time than needed to sterilize surgical instruments.

    6 replies

    Yes, however not everyone with a compost has one which heats up that high. But if one does, then, well, you might as well try to compost anything organic you have.

    If your pile is at least 1 cubic yard and contains the proper mixture of nitrogen, carbon, air and water, it -will- heat up that high. The thermometer will tell you how you did with this particular pile. If you don't like what it is telling you, just tear the pile down and start over ... and that may be all that it takes because sometimes the material simply wasn't mixed well enough the first time. Remix it, adding water to it as you go and give it 3-4 days to heat up again. You may be very pleasantly surprised at the results.

    That said, perfectly usable compost can be made at lower temps and higher temps are no guarantee of sterility of the pile as a whole. Nor is the sterility of the pile a goal unless you have knowingly added manure from sick animals (two-legged as well as four). In that case, it will probably heat up just fine. Turn it like crazy and then let it sit for an extra season.

    Stuff rots. Leave a pile of tree leaves alone long enough with NO additional ingredients and NO turning and it will rot. Do the same for a bale of hay and you'll get the same result. Organic material does not need us to do anything in order for it to rot ... otherwise the planet would be covered in a layer of dinosaur do-do and carcasses of every sort.

    Indeed. So people make composts to contain all the decay in a single area to prevent the decay microbes from going away, and for aesthetic reasons. Rotting wood doesn't have as good of a consistancy for some purposes as compost has. However compost or no compost, whatever is rotting, it sure does make your veggies grow good.

    Masterdude, I think I need to let you have the final say here. In the end, everything that came from the earth returns to it and given enough organic material and a little water, even the desert can be made to bloom. I think we can agree on that.

    However you choose to compost is fine by me ... there really is no wrong way as long as you account for local conditions.

    I hope to continue learning and I try to share what I have learned with others who have not learned it yet, all the while learning from them the things that I do not yet know.

    Peace. Out.
    Just Bill

    Autoclaves run ~220F at ~20psi. (at least in the labs I've been in) Not saying that you are incorrect about the other stuff. Running a really hot compost will kill pretty much anything. Just be sure to get the outside stuff to the inside to get it decomposed. I wish I could get my pile that hot. :-(

    Depending on the weather in your neck of the woods, cold might do just as good at killing harmful parasites, etc. All variations of life have temperature ranges at which they flourish and temperatures at which they perish. Patience can substitute for high temps if your locale gets cold enough weather.

    The "compost" won't happen, but the nasties will be dead and you can freely add the contents of the pile to your soil. It will finish breaking down in the soil, albeit slower. Sometimes slower is better. Higher temps make compost more quickly, but they do it by using the nitrogen for fuel. Slower compost retains more nitrogen.

    Either way, add as much organic material to your soil as it can reasonably hold as often as you are able to do so and it will reward you in a magnificent way.

    Good information, but you can't add worms to an active compost heap as they will die in the heat generated. Btw, no pics of your own compost?

    1 reply

    Contrary to popular belief, worms are not stupid (even though they are not very good at math). If you simply dumped worms on the outside of a outdoors pile, I don't imagine that very many of them would dig down to their deaths. Most likely they would seek darkness, so they would enter the pile somewhat, but then would continue to work their way down to the soil level, traveling just under the skin of the pile.

    On the other hand, of course, if you opened the pile and tossed them into the hottest part of it, they would promptly die.

    You need to post your own pictures: this looks like an internet-harvest rather than something you did. L

    2 replies

    It is unclear who you are addressing your comment to.

    If you are referencing my photo, it is original. I took it to prove to a judge that I wasn't running an unlicensed waste disposal site in my backyard (honestly ... that is what the ticket accused me of!). I didn't harvest the photo elsewhere, but like as not, inside of a week you'll be able to find it in plenty of other places.

    Hi there, thanks for the tips. Please explain how yarrow & chamomile work specifically to expediate the decomposition. Thanks!

    you can add "manure" to the compost pile just in the right amounts and the right kind no dog or cat but we use sheep poultry cow pig and rabbit and when we clean out the barns (spring and fall) we just throw it on the pile and by fairtime (augest) it is done for the most part. now mind you we use it mostly on the pasture so it dosen't matter if it is not all the way composted but for the garden my dad and I use the stuff in the middle of our pile.

    ah what fun to be standing 4 feet in the air with lambs boucing aruond you on the compost while you try to get to the "good stuff"

    yep we have a huge pile 50 sheep 200 birds and 6 cows make a lot of compost

    I throw everything including worms in my compost pile except any dairy, meats, left over food . but I do also add lots of water. I turn it once a week. I live in alaska and can have compost ready in a month. I just keep adding to the pile