Jenny and Penny on QUALITY CONTROL DUTIES
HOT COMPOSTING WITH MY MATE DAVE
Few gardeners make enough compost for their needs. HOT COMPOSTING is an easy way of producing a lot of compost in a short space of time.
Most of the ways we make compost is termed COLD COMPOSTING – that is; slowly adding to the heap over time and raking out the decomposed material from the bottom when it is cooked.
With HOT COMPOSTING the heap is made in ONE GO, left alone to decompose, and then the whole heap is ready to use in a relatively short space of time.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES of HOT COMPOSTING over COLD?:
- HOT COMPOSTING is a much QUICKER PROCESS than COLD – which can be quite slow.
- It KILLS DISEASE ORGANISMS – COLD does not
- IT KILLS WEED SEEDS – COLD does not
- RICH SOIL FOOD – like NITROGEN – is retained in the composting process.*
- HOT COMPOSTING IS AN EFFICIENT USE OF SPACE
- When finished it can be turned into a READY TO USE GARDEN BED
HOW TO MAKE HOT COMPOST: Come with me to Dave’s place and see how he does it.
Dave lives on 5 acres with a large re-forested area, vegetable garden, chickens and ducks – so he always has a lot of material for making simple compost heaps like these.
TOP TIP: Make your HOT COMPOST in a spot where you want to have a new garden bed – then just rake it out, when it is ready, and PLANT – bingo!
STEP 1. Make a simple frame with some chicken wire and pickets. You can also use wooden pallets/straw bales/old bits of corrugated iron etc. It just needs to be big enough to generate heat – AT LEAST ONE METER SQUARE. Put on your best hat.
STEP 2. If you have looked at the previous posts for making a NO-DIG garden and COMPOSTING you will see that we are going to use exactly the same LASAGNE methods that we used in those – layering CARBON with NITROGEN about 5:1.
STEP 3. Start with a good layer of dry/CARBON material – straw/shredded paper/dry leaves/cardboard/egg boxes/wood shavings/dry prunings etc.
STEP 4. Next, a layer of green/NITROGEN material – old pumpkin vines/freshly pulled weeds/grass clippings/spent flowers/kitchen scraps/seaweed/any plants from the pea or bean family (they are nitrogen rich)
STEP 5. It’s important to water well between each layer. Here Dave is making sure the composting process will be activated quickly by adding diluted urine – a valuable source of nitrogen that we just flush away. Not so long ago this was all returned to the land – it still is in many countries.
STEP 6. There are other compost activators like COMFREY. This is a deep-rooted plant that mines nutrients and helps to speed up decomposition.
STEP 7. Any kind of animal manures are good in not too large quantities and better used as a ‘slurry’ – watered down.
STEP 8. You just keep layering until the heap is complete. Make sure you water it well and then COVER IT. You need to keep heavy rain out and the heat in. What this may lack in looks will make up for the fattest eggplants and greenest lettuces you will ever grow!.
LASTLY – IT WILL TAKE ABOUT THREE MONTHS FOR THE HEAP TO BE PROPERLY COMPOSTED – slower in WINTER
I loved your description of the bushwalk and look forward to casually slipping "a charm of finches" into a conversation.
Re the hot compost, I have had little experience with these but have heard it said that the minimum size to generate sufficient heat is one metre cubed.