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Composting Methods

If you have been successful with basic composting and would like to know more about different composting techniques, read on…

1. Cool Composting

This is the easiest method of composting. However, your compost will not heat up enough to kill weed seeds.

Place a thick layer ( 6” - 12”) of dry materials such as twigs, leaves, paper and card at the bottom of your compost bin / heap. You should try and use shredded cardboard or paper if you can.

Gradually add other moist and dry materials as they arise, but do try to add roughly the same quantity of each.

Your compost should be ready in 9 - 12 months.

2. High-Fibre Composting

This method is basically a variation of cool composting. People often find that their compost is smelly or slimy. This is usually because there is not enough dry (nitrogen-rich) material in their compost bin / heap.

High-fibre composting is carried out in the same way as cool composting, but you should use lots of shredded cardboard or paper - put in at least as much as you do moist materials.

3. Hot Composting

This method requires a lot more work than cold composting, but it is ideal for those with large gardens as the compost can be ready in 4 - 8 weeks.

You must use a compost bin that is at least 1m3.

Collect 1m3 worth of moist and dry materials. Chop or shred as many of these as possible.

Place 6-12” of dry materials at the bottom of the bin / heap. Then place a similar sized layer of moist materials on top of it. Mix the two layers together with a fork.

Repeat this process, building up your bin / heap layer by layer.

If you are using a compost bin, close the lid. If you are using a heap, cover it with old fleece or something similar. The compost should begin to heat up within hours.

With weekly turning, the compost should be ready in 4 weeks. If turning is done on an infrequent basis it could take up to 8 weeks

4. Leaf Mould

Leaves can take up to 3 years to decompose, so they should be added gradually to your compost heap / bin. Alternatively, you can make leaf mould, which is perfect for adding structure to soil that has too much clay or sand. You can also add leaves, card, paper and wood as they are all high in carbon.

You can use a heap for this or a special leaf mould bin.

Simply place your leaves in the bin / heap and leave to mature. You can add more leaves to the top of the pile each year if you wish. After around 3 years, you can harvest leaf mould from the bottom of the bin / heap and use it to improve your soil.

If you are having compost problems, please visit Dr Compost.

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