3 Composting Methods for Successful Compost
There are 3 main types of composting; hot composting, cold composting and worm composting.
Hot composting is a traditional form or composting that utilizes the aerobic microbes that exist in soil. These microbes consist of certain types of bacteria and fungi. If you are concerned that your soil may not contain these microbes you can actually purchase a compost starter mix, to put into your compost pile.
These aerobic microbes will break down the materials you put into your pile, and in the process your compost heap will heat up and in the center of your pile it can become quite hot.
As their name suggests these ‘aerobic‘ microbes require air or oxygen and in order to keep your compost ‘hot‘ and ‘working‘ you will need to regularly aerate your pile. Turning your compost is often done with a pitch fork, moving and mixing the materials, perhaps into a new pile or just turning well in the same pile.
You will need to do this perhaps once a week in order to keep your compost pile aerated and to maintain the decomposition process. You can also help maintain this aeration with some of the materials you add to your heap, such as sawdust, hay or dried leaves.
Of course air or oxygen is not the only requirement to keeping your hot compost pile working. You will also need to maintain the correct amount of moisture to facilitate these busy little microbes.
In fact, regardless of which composting process you use, hot, cold or worms you always need the right amount of moisture. Not too wet of course, just a consistent amount of moisture throughout the pile. If your pile gets too wet the aerobic microbes will not be able to survive and your pile will likely just become a smelly heap, which brings us to our next method; cold compost.
Cold compost will most often use anaerobic microbes, which as the name suggests do not require oxygen or air to work. This of course saves a task which is regular turning of your compost pile, however, as good as that sounds, the downside is you will likely have the smell of rotting garbage coming from your pile as well as the increased likelihood of vermin and pest invading your heap.
The cold composting method is also much slower than the hot method in producing your desired end product, the sweet smelling rich humus that you use to feed your plants and improve your soil. The hot method should only take a few weeks, whereas the cold method will take maybe a year, by comparison. So which method you choose for making your compost, will depend on a number of things and your own particular preference and situation.
If you would like to still get quicker results but make the process a bit easier to manage, then using a compost tumbler will help you to keep your compost clean and tidy in your garden, make turning your compost way easier, and provide you with years of ongoing use.
The third and final method discussed here, is Worm Composting, or Vermicomposting. This is, as the name suggests utilizing worms to produce your compost. With this method the worms do all the work of ‘turning’ and processing scrapes and waste materials into the end products of worm castings and liquid worm tea, or liquid fertilizer.
Red worms are the most common used with this type of composting system, and they are not the same as the worms you find in your garden. In order to keep your Worms happy and healthy you have to provide the right conditions for them.
What you have is essentially a worm farm, and this usually consists of trays stacked upon each other, which have holes in them that the worms can get through, moving up and down through the trays.
You need to make sure that your worm farm is not subject to extremes in temperature, and again that the correct amount of moisture is maintained. Liquid will collect in the bottom of the worm farm and most will have a tap at the bottom so you can regularly drain off the ‘worm tea‘ so that your worms don’t drown.
You start your Worm Composting process with a couple of trays, adding food scraps paper and yard waste to the top tray. You need to make sure you don’t add too much at once or it might start ‘rotting‘ and you will want to make sure that it is chopped pretty fine to help the worms to ‘eat‘ it more quickly.
As the worms process the waste products, they produce worm castings, which accumulate in the bottom tray, above where the liquid will collect. As this builds up the worms will move up to the next tray and you keep adding trays to the top and removing your castings tray from the bottom as you go as well as regularly emptying the liquid ‘worm tea‘ from the very bottom of your worm composting unit.
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