Twinstreams Indigenous Nursery and Landscaping Contact

Compost making
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 12:01
Compost is made with simple rules and methods under controlled conditions.
Assemble materials, greens or browns in correct proportions, aerating (turning) and watering. Monitoring temperatures so the decomposition of the material is reached without damaging the beneficial micro and macro bacteria present in the heap.Composting is one of the oldest ideas of recycling useable waste products turning it into a high valueproduct.

Assembly of Materials
All possible waste streams (cost effective materials) should be looked at to supplement and add to bulking up quantity of compostable materials.
Greens: Fresh matter cut up and chipped retaining much of its own water content. Do not leave it for more than a day after chipping to incorporate into the compost process. This can include branches, leaves, grass clippings, etc. which are all rich in nitrogen.

Browns: Sawdust, Dry plant material, shredded, is all browns containing high proportions of carbon.Up to 10% can be rough, small sticks and pruning's from the Olive trees, which will probably, not all, break down on the first composting but will help with aeration and prevent material from packing down and clogging up. Wood ash is a very beneficial additive to the heap.Combine all these shredded materials in a wind row, not more than 1,2m high and 2m wide. but can be any length. Ensure materials are well mixed and your stacking does not compact. Keep the wind rows light and well aerated.

Using kraal manure, mix in approximately 1:5 ratio kraal to materials and afterwards add water to fully wet the wind row. Repeat the watering but do not overdo it - ± 60% moisture, like a wet sponge.

Monitor the temperature. Once it reaches 60⁰C for five days (not over 70⁰C) turn the heap over and re-water. The temperature will drop. Monitor this until the heap reaches 60⁰C again, looking at the degree of decomposition, turn the heap over for a second time. (If it has not reached the desired temperature, add more manure). Repeat process for third time only if needed.

The total time taken if all steps are followed, enough water content, aeration and turning with the correct heat achieved, should not be more than 65 days maximum. More effort following the correct process will ensure good quality compost achieved in a short period. Once the temperature drops down to below 20⁰C, it is now ready.

Keep records
Materials used quantity of materials ratio to percentage activator (kraal manure), water used, time taken, temperatures reached and how you have worked out better methods.

Hints and Tips
Compost heaps should not smell. Too much water or not turned enough will produce unnatural smells. Diseased plant material and weeds with seeds should not be added.Flies indicate incorrect making and too wet.Compost heaps are made up of a host of small microscopic creatures, beneficial microorganisms, so it is important that the heat does not reach over 60⁰C for more than five days.Do not add rubbish, coal and its ash, cat and dog litter.Add into newly formed wind rows, ¼ of your old heap. Be creative and enjoy this natural process which is going to add value to your operation for years to come.

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