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How to Make a Compost Heap

How to make a compost heap is a question that every beginner to compost asks. Firstly, a compost heap is made up of different kinds of organic material collected from various sources, that is stored while going through aerobic decomposition. After the compost heap goes through this process, it turns into a highly rich type of soil that then can be utilized for gardening.

A high-quality compost heap is made of many kinds of material, and should pass many criteria to be effective. Some things that are especially needed are elements like oxygen and nitrogen, heat and water, bacteria and lime.

Not everything can be thrown into the mix to make a compost heap, but a good rule of thumb to determine whether or not you can include something, is to check whether it’s naturally organic. If it is, you can throw it in. If it’s something that rots, you can also toss it in.

There is a proper way to make your own compost heap, and there’s also the wrong way to go about doing it. The most important thing to remember is that air should be allowed to freely circulate throughout the heap, in order to make the process of decomposition possible. Air circulation also accelerates the decomposition phase.

The decomposition of the waste and other material in a compost heap is achieved with the very important help of bacteria and the actions of fungus. Bacteria need nitrogen for food – this is why when you add nitrogen in all its many forms, you make the waste material decay faster.

A compost heap made out of a thin layer of a fertilizer infused with nitrogen, like the sulphate of ammonia, and fresh animal manure interlaced with other garden waste, will increase the speed of the heap’s decomposition. This kind of heap looks very much like a sandwich, with one layer varying to the next between animal manure and garden waste.

A  properly built compost heap will eventually rot of its own accord without any external assistance. You can, however, also speed up the process considerably by making changes to the heap every other week, like using a shovel to move clusters of compost from a new heap right on top of the older one.

Don’t forget to also add water every now and then, and ensure that you’re leaving pockets of air all around the compost heap for proper ventilation to do its part.

There are many differently held opinions when it comes to the topic of how long the compost heap should be stored before it can be used. The main rule is that the compost heap must be placed in a storage container, such as a compost bin until it has thoroughly decayed.

For some heaps, each of the materials that were used to build it will become unrecognizable. For most cases, the organic materials used for the heap should have a darker color and a crumb-like composition. A slime-like state is not good enough, and is a sign that the heap was not set up properly.

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