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Compost making - Heap method

Updated: Sep 13, 2022

Principle 6 of Permaculture says "Produce no waste"

We must value and make use of all resources that are available to us. The waste that we call 'waste' is also a useful resource. Compost making is one such application of using this resource. All the organic materials (plant and animal residue) can be composted and returned to the plant.


We use compost in permaculture farms to enrich our soil over the long run. Compost acts as a food source for the soil fauna, retains moisture in the soil, improves soil structure and fertility, and provides nutrients to the vegetation. Composting can be aerobic, anaerobic, or vermicomposting.


The Heap method of composting is one easy method of aerobic (in the presence of oxygen) composting. It requires a convenient location to make the compost pile. A shady area, protected from sunlight, rainfall, and strong wind would be preferred. The base of the heap must be in contact with the loosened earth.


Day one

After one week


Ingredients:

Dry coarse plant materials (wood logs) - one layer for the base

Dry matter chopped - 3 parts

Green matter chopped - 1 part

Slurry (cow dung/urine: water=1:10 ratio)

Forest soil - one handful

Leaves of latex-producing plants (eg. Calotropis)

A wooden pole


Preparation:

  1. Lay a layer of coarse plant materials at the base (3*3 ft). This allows to drain off excess water and avoids water logging in the heap.

  2. Insert a pole at the center. When the heap is made, loosen it as and when required to escape the excessive heat and give aeration.

  3. Add a thick layer of well-moistened dry matter.

  4. Mix a handful of forest soil giving fungal life to the compost and lay two leaves of Calotropis on either side to produce heat for fast decomposing.

  5. Pour some slurry water on top to activate the bacterial life.

  6. Add another thin layer of green matter and slurry on top of that. Maintain the ratio of dry to the green matter as 3:1.

  7. Repeat steps 2-5 until the heap reaches the desired height (3-5 ft). Let the dry matter cover the top of the heap.

Let the process of decomposition begin.


Maintenance

  • Provide proper aeration

  • Do not let the compost be too dry or wet

  • Maintain the balance between green and dry matter

  • If the compost contains too many acidic ingredients, balance the pH by adding wood ash.


Turnings

The compost pile must be turned at intervals to ensure the proper decomposition of the matter. Add water if required.


Day one to first turning = 3 weeks

First to second turning = 3 weeks

Second turn to completion = 6 weeks


Compost ready!

It takes about 12 weeks or 3 months to get your compost ready! The compost pile will become cool once it's completely decomposed and the size of the pile reduces to one-third (depending on the original ingredients). The finished compost will be dark in color and will have an earthly odor. Unfinished compost will be toxic to plants.

Now the compost can be sieved and stored for later use.


Make your own compost piles & grow healthy soil and plants.

Happy composting!

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