Tips on Building a Compost Pile

1. Layers of brown and green plant matter - This includes autumn leaves, grass clippings, wood chips and saw dust. Wood ash can be added in small amounts but avoid ash from burned plastic. It is wise to avoid diseased material as the seeds might survive the high heat of the compost process.

2. Layers of kitchen vegetable scraps - This includes carrot tops, potato peelings, apple cores and stems. 

3. Layers of soil as inoculant - Soil contains all the bacteria and fungi needed to create compost.  Avoid human and pet feces because disease organisms might survive even the high heat of the decomposition process. 

4. Place your compost pile in the shade, near trees - The tree roots love the nourishment from the compost; they may impose into the pile but they are easily trimmed back each year. The heat required for decomposition is from the bacteria in the pile, not the sun. The shade keeps the pile from drying out.

5. Ensure adequate but not too much water -Do not let the pile dry out and do not let the pile get soaking wet. Too much water results in not enough air, creating a soggy mess. Too little water slows down the degradation.

6. Add egg shells, even clam or lobster shells -Shells are excellent sources of calcium. If the shells are crushed before being added to the pile, they decompose quickly. Otherwise they can easily be crushed and added into the garden beds with the completed compost.

7. No meat or dairy products - Avoid meat and dairy products as these attract rodents.

8. Twigs help with air flow - Air is a crucial factor inside a compost pile. Oxygen feeds friendly oxygen-loving (aerobic) bacteria. If there is not enough oxygen, unfriendly anaerobic bacteria take over. These anaerobic bacteria are slower working and in addition to producing useful products, they produce ammonia-like substances and end-products like hydrogen sulphide, which smells like rotten eggs. 

9. Layers of manure from friendly animals - Modest amounts of manure bring billions of friendly bacteria and these bacteria multiply and provide the heat needed for decomposition.

10. Biodynamic compost preparations - After building your pile with many layers from the above list, insert one dose (a teaspoon) of each of the following biodynamic preparations: chamomile, dandelion, nettle, oak bark, yarrow and valerian. Then spray the pile with valerian preparation to seal it off and bring in the Warmth Element. 

11. Turning the piles brings fresh air to the microbes - While turning is optional, it maybe necessary if the pile gets too wet in which case add more dried leaves in layers. After the temperature completely cools down, the compost is ready for use. 


As written by Rosemary Tayler, Celestial Planting Calendar 2016


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