Compost Bins

In January, we made a set of 3 simple compost bins using scrap metals.

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The idea behind these bins is that you flip your compost pile from one compartment to the next one every other day. This aerates the compost and speeds up its decomposition. Flipping promotes aerobic bacteria (the friendly ones that don’t smell), which are really the guys we want around.

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How To Make A Compost?

Flipping your compost is a ‘hot composting’ technique following the Berkeley Method. To make a  hot compost, you need 1 cubic metre (minimum size) compost pile, with a ratio of 1 nitrogen (greens ie. fresh cut grass, manure, food scraps) parts to 25 carbon part (browns, ie.dried leaves). Layer your greens and browns like lasagne (Do NOT eat!) and water each of the layers. Add a kicker in the middle of the pile. This will ‘kick off’ your compost pile. Urine, blood, a dead animal off the road or market will do just fine.  Using a strong stick (a hoe handle will do), make a hole going from the middle of the top of the pile all the way to the bottom. This will help aerate the pile. You can also make your pile on top of sticks to improve air circulation in your pile. The sticks at the bottom are only necessary the first 3 days. You do not need to flip the compost and keep the sticks at the bottom. After that the flipping will aerate your pile quite nicely..

Once you make your compost pile let it sit for 3 days. Then flip it. Flip every other day. If your Nitrogen:Carbon ratio was correct, you will have ready-to-use compost in just 18 days!

Make sure to water your compost if it is too dry. If your compost is not heating up enough add more Nitrogen materials. If it is too hot, add more carbon (this rarely happens). With the ideal temperature you should be able to hold your hand in the compost pile for 10 seconds before it starts to feel like it is burning.

The difference between a hot compost and a cold compost is the flipping. Cold composts you do not flip. Just let it sit until it is ready to use. This is much slower, but produces higher quality compost.

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In the tropics, you can cover your compost to prevent evaporation.

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Already the bins (bottom left corner) are filling their niche in the shade of the nursery. Right next to our worm bin (under the bamboo cover) and our potted seedlings. The compost is already right where it needs to be, so minimum energy is expended carrying compost to where it is needed for potting mix.

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