Compost: Hotbed for New Life (4/5)

Veronika Bond Humus

photo: Will Cornfield

“All of a sudden a direct and deep internal connection opens up between human and the building of soil.”Raoul Francé

4 — Composition of the Compost

There are many different ways to set up a compost pile! Here are two relatively simple options:

A – If you have a lot of materials and can build the compost quickly, arrange ‘brown woody stuff’ (more carbon) and  ‘green leafy stuff’ (more nitrogen) in alternating layers (about 10 cm each). If you have animal manure, add some of that after a set of carbon-nitrogen layers, and sprinkle some garden soil on top. If you have kitchen waste, you can add that between layers too. If it’s very dry, sprinkle the composition with water after every set of layers.

‘Brown layers’ of chopped up twigs and branches ensure the flow of oxygen in the pile. The final layer of the composition should be a covering of garden soil. This can be covered with mulch, or hessian sacks to protect it from drying out.

B – When building a compost gradually, I put a layer of broken twigs and branches (fruit tree or vine prunings) at the bottom, and pick a few buckets of wild companion plants (nettles, chickweed, comfrey, dock, dandelion, or whatever happens to be around) to put on top. Then I might add a bit of horse manure, a bucket of kitchen waste and cover it with a sprinkling of garden soil.

If possible, I keep a supply of horse manure and shredded ‘brown materials’ nearby, so I can always add them to the pile. A bucket of fresh kitchen waste and about an equal amount of ‘green materials’ gets added to our compost on average every 2 days. The ‘brown materials’, manure and garden soil are added about once a week. When it is very dry we also water the compost once a week.

It is well known that a diversity of plant and animal life ensures a healthy soil. This principle applies to the compost too. The soil kingdom is thriving when it is teeming with many different species of microorganisms, fungi, macroorganisms and plants. As composting artists, if we think of these principles, then we’ll naturally create a vibrant composition.

to be continued…


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