Composting is nature’s way of cycling organic material into nutrient rich, fertile soil.
Compost is natures gift to the off-grid, organic farmer. Many of us know the benefits of using compost as an organic fertilizer, but not all know how to make a compost pile.
Compost is decayed organic material. By starting your own compost pile, you will basically accelerate the decaying process in a controlled way to end up with the desired result of having your own organic fertilizer to use in your garden. The process is very simple.
You may either choose to make compost in a small scale in a compost bin, or if you have enough space, you can make compost in a pile.
Compost bins are readily available from gardening shops or online outlets.
The same principles apply, whether you choose to make compost in a bin, or if you choose to produce it on a larger scale by starting a pile.
1 Choose the right spot:
Your composting plant will need a good couple of weeks to mature. Make sure you select the perfect spot for it.
The best place is a well-drained area with part shade and part sun during the day. My favorite spot is the summer-shade area of a large tree, especially if there was a leafy layer under the tree.
Normally the soil underneath the tree will already be composted and it will be naturally rich in earthworms. This will of cause only benefit the process if you opt for starting out a compost pile, as a bin will form a barrier between the compost and ground soil.
2 Get the worms in:
As mentioned before, composting is a natural process. Therefore, don’t shy away from the fact that you need to invite worms into your compost plant. If you don’t have the benefit of having the perfect spot in your garden where you know earthworms are active, you can buy composting worms from gardening outlets. A good example of these worms is Tiger Worms (Eisenia Fetida).
What the worms do, is they eat away the organic waste that you add to your compost pile and in return they are excreting nutrient rich liquid into the pile. The worms create pathways that helps airing the pile and also assist in creating a sponge like substance which retains moist.
3 What to add to your compost pile?
All organic material can be composted, but some just works better than others.
Be careful not to create a “wet pile” by putting too much kitchen waste in the form of vegetable peels, fruit waste, food scrapings etc in your pile.
If the pile is a bit wet, get the balance right by adding plant and tree leaves, prunings and grass cuttings. Careful though not to add too much grass cuttings.
Other things that are good for your compost pile, includes:
– crushed egg shells,
– paper shreddings &
– wood shavings
4 How to pack your pile and work it:
Start with the rougher sticky, leafy, dryer materials at the bottom.
Then work upwards with the materials as it gets finer and add the wettest materials on top.
If you had a previous compost pile, add some of the old compost back into the new pile to activate the process.
Add the soldiers (compost worms) to the your pile.
Add “fresh” material on a regular base.
Turn the heap with a pitchfork at least every week.
Make sure the material is properly turned to ensure even composting.
Be careful with moisture. Too little moist will reduce the process, while too much moist will result in a soggy rotting pile.
If the pile gets soggy, add more dry material like leaves and paper shreds.
5 Avoid adding the following:
Don’t add meat scraps, fish, eggs, dairy products and other protein foods.
These will attract rodents / cats or stray dogs.
Don’t add dog poo, poultry- or pig manure or faeces to your pile.
6 Be aware of:
– Not starting too small.
The process needs a critical mass to be successful.
– Managing the moist content.
A dry pile is not composting.
– Turning the pile constantly.
– The Pile might get hot!!
When you notice that the contents of the decomposing pile is getting a temperature, it is time to celebrate. This means that the process is “healthy” and very active. Don’t be concerned. Just turn it, open it up a bit and air the composting material.
This is a natural process that you’re helping along. You can’t really mess it up. If it is not working, check your moist, turn it again and add what it takes.
In about eight weeks +, you will have dark brown, flaky, nutrient rich composted soil.
This is the best of the best organic fertilizer that nature has to give and it only takes a bit of effort to have it made.
You now have rich compost that is ideal for organic vegetable farming.
A last and closing thought:
You may even consider selling your compost in support of your off-grid lifestyle.
Your comments will be appreciated.
Any questions? …I will answer all from the comments section.
Cobus vdM / https://offgridbasics.com