In Brief: Making a Compost Pile
A compost pile, also known as black gold, is a very important supplement for plant and soil revitalization. It will give your soil all the nutrients that it needs to grow healthy plants. But making a compost pile is not as simple as simply throwing all leftovers onto a pile. There is a process involved in making a healthy, nutrient-rich compost pile. We will cover this process below.
A compost pile is made up of a variety of kitchen waste and some environmental waste that decomposes over a period of time to give a highly nutritious supplement that benefits both soil and plants.
This article discusses the making of a compost pile, its benefits, and troubles that may result from making a compost pile.
- In Brief: Making a Compost Pile
- Why Make a Compost Pile?
- How To Make a Compost Pile
- Benefits Of Making a Compost Pile
Why Make a Compost Pile?
Is there any purpose to making a compost pile? This section discusses why it is good to make a compost pile, as well as the process involved in it.
Principle Of Making a Compost Pile
A compost pile works based on the natural process of decomposition of organic matter. This decomposition process can be easily sped up by providing ideal conditions.
To get good compost, items such as oxygen, temperature, moisture, adequate surface area, and a good carbon-to-nitrogen ratio must be made available.
Conditions That Aid Composting
Oxygen allows for microbial growth to take place, and if insufficient, these microbes will be nonexistent. Thus, decomposition will not take place.
A warm temperature is also required to sustain the life of microbes in the compost pile. Excessive temperatures are not beneficial to the compost pile, as it hurts bacterial growth, which would result in a non-composted pile.
It is important for the pile to have some moisture, as this helps in the movement of bacteria in the pile. If the moisture is excessive or insufficient, microbes will not survive.
The surface area of the pile must allow for quick decomposition to occur. It is advised to use smaller pieces rather than large chunks when creating your pile.
The carbon-to-nitrogen ratio should be such that the carbon source is slightly more than the nitrogen source. Too much carbon will slow the decomposition process, while too much nitrogen will cause a stench.
How To Make a Compost Pile
There are no fast and hard rules for making a compost pile. However, to get good compost, it is advised to follow a process that allows good decomposition over time.
- Choice Location
Composting can be done either indoors or outdoors depending on the available space.
If you do not have outdoor space, a composting bin (which can be bought or homemade) can be used. If you have enough yard space, you can choose a discreet spot to begin your composting process.
The spot should be carefully chosen so as not to attract pests or offend neighbors who may be sensitive.
- Bin Choice
If you are not using a land compost method or if you are composting indoors, it is necessary to make use of a compost bin.
Bins can be bought or homemade. Your choice of bin is totally dependent on you and your available space.
If making one by yourself, you have to ensure that there is adequate space for turning and heat creation, which aids better composting.
- Material Mixing
Once you have chosen your spot and bin and are ready to begin composting, you can start adding the materials to your compost pile.
You will start with some bare earth or soil, to which you add twigs or straws, followed by compost materials (kitchen wastes), and then manure.
When adding all of these items, ensure that carbon sources, such as dry leaves, bark, and wood, are added in the correct proportion to nitrogen sources, such as coffee grounds, tea leaves, etc.
A good ratio is two-thirds carbon sources and one-third nitrogen sources.
- Manure Addition
Manure from vegetarian animals can then be added to the mixed materials.
This manure enhances the nutrient abilities of the compost, as it serves as a rich organic fertilizer. It should be noted, however, that not all animal dung can be added as manure in compost piles.
Only those from vegetarian animals are advised. Manure from non-vegetarian animals could pose issues of pests and contaminations, which could have an adverse effect on plant health.
It is important that your compost pile has the right amount of moisture to enable microbial action to take place easily and effectively.
In the absence of enough moisture, bacteria that are needed for decomposition will be killed or may not even be generated at all.
However, in the presence of excessive moisture, the decomposition of inorganic waste may be terribly slowed.
Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that the compost pile has just the right amount of moisture at all times. This can be achieved by dampening the pile with water and turning it.
- Cover and Turn
Once all the materials have been added to the compost pile, it should be covered with either wood, plastic sheets, or carpet scraps.
This allows for heat and moisture retention in the prepared compost pile. Once this is done, it is necessary to turn the pile every now and then to allow a proper supply of oxygen to the pile.
This oxygen supply enables bacterial life and action, which will result in better quality compost more quickly.
Watch this video to see how you can make a hot compost pile.
Is there a possibility that things could go awry with your compost pile?
Smelly Compost Piles
This is most likely due to a lack of sufficient oxygen, which results in a rotten smell. It could also be caused by excessive nitrogen in the form of ammonia due to a high concentration of nitrogen sources in the pile.
It can be eliminated either by turning it for aeration and nitrogen reduction or by adding more carbon sources and mixing the pile for nitrogen reduction.
This could be a result of inappropriately sized proportions of the compost pile. It is advised that a 3x3x3 size be applied when composting.
Also if the pile is old, then it is necessary to turn it regularly to add oxygen, which will aid the heating process. Also, new piles can be created and added to it to increase heat production through nitrogen sources.
Excess heat in a compost pile may be a problem, as it kills off the microbes that are needed for microbial action to take place.
Therefore, it is highly necessary to check that the nitrogen sources, which contribute largely to heat in the compost, are not excessive.
Benefits Of Making a Compost Pile
Making a compost pile has a lot of benefits to both users and the environment, including plants and soil, as we will see below.
Composting helps create rich humus, which increases soil nutrients and water retention. This makes the soil more favorable to plant growth.
When waste is generated and dumped at designated locations, it may cause harmful effects to the environment by emitting unfriendly gases.
Composting eliminates this issue, as it uses up both kitchen and yard waste in a beneficial process for soil and plants.
Introduction Of Beneficial Soil Organisms
Useful microorganisms that are beneficial to the soil are obtained through composting. This is due to the decomposition of organic matter present in the compost, which increases microbial action.
The use of compost completely eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers that could be harmful to the environment over a long period of time.
Compost is basically organic and degrades over time into natural manure.
Reduction Of Landfill Waste
Composting helps prevent the quick fill-up of designated landfill sites, as waste that can be composted does not go to the landfill. This ensures that less land is used up by landfills.
The video below highlights some of the benefits of using a compost pile:
It is advisable to use manure from vegetarian animals. Manure from non-vegetarians animals may be prone to contamination, which would not be good for the plants.
It is not advised to use meat, fish, or their parts in the making of a compost pile. This is because they may attract pests to the compost, which would not be beneficial to the soil and plants.
Sawdust can be used in compost piles, but it should be mixed or thinly spread to avoid clumping. If allowed to clump, it prevents proper aeration and moisture in the pile. The sawdust used must be free from oils, which would contaminate the soil.
While most fruits and organic material may be good for a compost pile, peels from bananas and peaches, as well as orange rinds, are not encouraged for composting. This is because they may contain pesticide residue that is harmful to the soil.
Yes, you can compost indoors. All you need to do is get a bin designated to the composting and put it in a secluded space where it won’t inconvenience you or your housemates.
Making a compost pile is highly beneficial for the environment, the soil, the plants on which it is used, and the individual who makes it.
It provides a cheap and reliable soil nutrient while saving you some cash on disposing of waste from your home to designated areas.
As much as possible, we are all encouraged to make our own compost piles and apply them to our gardens and farms for healthier soil and plants.