Tutorial: How to Make your Own Compost

J. James

In Bloom
Five steps to turn organic waste to compost:

1. What is composting?


Composting is the biological decomposition of organic wastes by bacteria, fungi, worms and other organisms under controlled conditions where oxygen is available.

Decomposers are not much different than people in terms of their basic needs, so be sure to provide your microbes with all of the basics:
  • Food: Carbon and Nitrogen (Browns & Greens)
  • Water: Moist, not soggy
  • Air: Oxygen
  • Volume: 3' long x 3' high x 3' deep or 3-5 foot diameter by 3 feet high
  • Particle Size: Less than 2-3 inches
2. What can I compost?

Anything that was a plant. All plant materials contain nitrogen and carbon. Materials high in nitrogen are called "greens", e.g. grass clippings, manure, and kitchen scraps. Materials high in carbon are called "browns", e.g. leaves, sawdust, and wood chips. Before adding materials to the compost bin, chip or shred items so they are no more than 2-3 inches long.

3. Where do I compost?

Most people compost in a bin, which may be located in the shade or partial sun. A bin is not necessary but helps keep the materials contained and neat. Your bin can be cubed, approximately 3' x 3' x 3', or a 5' diameter hoop of hardware wire. Place equal volumes of greens and browns in the compost bin. You can layer the materials in the bin by alternating 3-4" layer of greens and 3-4" layer of browns. Or you may mix up greens and browns and place them in layers in the bin. Water the compost as you build the bin.

4. After I build the compost pile, then what?

The compost may heat up due to biological activity and will certainly settle as the materials decompose. To speed up the process turn the compost bin periodically. Turning means taking everything out of the bin and then putting it back. Try to move the materials from the outer sides to the center.

You may add more materials at any time. Bury food wastes in the center of the pile or cover with brown materials such as leaves. You can also start a new bin for handling additional materials.

5. When is compost ready to use?

The compost is finished composting and ready to use when it has a uniform look (like soil), dark color, small particle size, and "earthy" odor. Most of the materials you put in will no longer be recognizable. Use finished compost as a mulch, soil amendment, or potting soil.

Now Let's Get to Composting!



**SOURCE MATERIAL**

 
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BH

Tha Dank Hoarder
Just started my very first outdoor compost pile last week been adding all these stupid weeds and junk from my garden and then a bagged mix of compost and my own urine to jump start the pile!

Love all these composting topics Organics FTW!!!

be careful of adding weeds to compost

reason = if you have the plant seeds and they don’t die out - you’ll get weeds in your garden or grow in the compost and then the cycle goes again . I suggested making a second “ weed or non usable “ for weeds and big stem based stuff.

my suggestions and what I was taught
 

coste

In Bloom
This is good content, and reminded me that I need to put the cover back on my bin.

The biggest take away -- this was earned from personal experience for sure -- make sure to break shit up. I made the mistake of putting a bunch of blackberry vines in the bin, and that turned into an absolute impossible situation to turn it over. Don't do that. Cut pieces down before they go in the bin.

Also, make sure to turn it. You don't want your bin going anaerobic. That's bad bacteria that will cause problems in your garden if you use it as such. It stinks -- smells like sweet rot, if you know what that smells like.
 

Highsince76

In Bloom
I've got some great looking compost
that's been in the works for the last couple summers.
Mainly grass/dandelion clippings and leaves with some veggie garden leftovers. After checking it out this week, I have at least thirty gallons of really nice looking rich compost that I think is ready to go.
I'd sure love to work some into my super soil mix for my inside garden, but am hesitant to do so because of possibly introducing unwanted pests.
I've researched it a bit online and apparently some people will "pasteurize" it.
This involves heating the compost up to 180 degrees for 30 minutes to kill insects, plant bacteria, and plant viruses.
Seems to me like a lot of work, time consuming, not to mention stinky.
I guess if you had some type of outside oven/stove it wouldn't be to bad, but I don't.

My question is how many of you make compost, bring it inside to use, with no issues or problems?
Mites, aphids and the likes being my main concern.
 

Willie

🍓Crush Genetics🍓
I've got some great looking compost
that's been in the works for the last couple summers.
Mainly grass/dandelion clippings and leaves with some veggie garden leftovers. After checking it out this week, I have at least thirty gallons of really nice looking rich compost that I think is ready to go.
I'd sure love to work some into my super soil mix for my inside garden, but am hesitant to do so because of possibly introducing unwanted pests.
I've researched it a bit online and apparently some people will "pasteurize" it.
This involves heating the compost up to 180 degrees for 30 minutes to kill insects, plant bacteria, and plant viruses.
Seems to me like a lot of work, time consuming, not to mention stinky.
I guess if you had some type of outside oven/stove it wouldn't be to bad, but I don't.

My question is how many of you make compost, bring it inside to use, with no issues or problems?
Mites, aphids and the likes being my main concern.
You can solarize it outdoors.

You can read more on that here.
 
I've got some great looking compost
that's been in the works for the last couple summers.
Mainly grass/dandelion clippings and leaves with some veggie garden leftovers. After checking it out this week, I have at least thirty gallons of really nice looking rich compost that I think is ready to go.
I'd sure love to work some into my super soil mix for my inside garden, but am hesitant to do so because of possibly introducing unwanted pests.
I've researched it a bit online and apparently some people will "pasteurize" it.
This involves heating the compost up to 180 degrees for 30 minutes to kill insects, plant bacteria, and plant viruses.
Seems to me like a lot of work, time consuming, not to mention stinky.
I guess if you had some type of outside oven/stove it wouldn't be to bad, but I don't.

My question is how many of you make compost, bring it inside to use, with no issues or problems?
Mites, aphids and the likes being my main concern.
I have been wondering this as well. I have a pretty nice compost pile outside. All the soil and clippings from my grow room, rotted veggies from the garden and yard waste. It’s nice and black and I’m sure my plants would thrive in it, but worried about bring pests inside. Unfortunately I’m already fighting that issue that stemmed from a clone.......that ended up being a hermaphrodite :headwall:

I think my first attempt at a compost pile for the room will be done in a tote in the basement. I don’t like the pests!
 

Kind024

In Bloom
Great write up brother @J. James. Very well written! Thanks for sharing.

I'm going to elaborate a bit in hope of answering some of the above questions.

The ratio of browns to greens or C to N can vary quite a bit when making a compost pile. I've seen ratios of 20-1 or greater in some piles. Many things are relative when composting.

The amount of sugars/carbohydrates is a very important factor to consider when making your compost pile. Sugars/carbs feed microbes.

When a compost pile reaches temperatures over 115*f it's considered thermophilic. Thermophiles are microbes that are active between 115*f -250*f. The reason a compost pile heats up is from the biochemical processes of microbes. Thermophiles will break organic material down faster than mesophiles. This is why we try to keep a minimum of 3'x3'x3' dimensions when building the pile. A pile this size or larger will hold the heat better.

A compost pile under 115*f is considered mesophilic. Mesophiles are microbes that are active in the temperature range between about 68*f - 115*f. It's important to give the compost a proper resting period after the pile has cooled below 115*f...preferably 2-3 months. This is when the broad spectrum of mesophiles take back over. Mesophiles are the microbes we want in our soil.

Yes, a properly prepared compost can be mixed straight into your soil or top dressed in the grow room. This is the humus material portion, 25% - 30% of your initial mix. More or less depending on personal preference or growing methodology. Worm castings are also considered humus material. One could use compost or castings or a mixture of both when making soil.

Considering finished compost and finished castings are mesophilic. We dont really want them to heat back up when we make our soils. This heat or thermophilic activity is decimating the broad spectrum of mesophiles we want in our finished soil.

Ideally we want to add our soil amendments to our worm bin or compost pile. When adding amendments to the worm bin it's best to add a little at a time so it doesn't heat up and chase our worms away. The worms will process this material making it bioavailable to the plants. We could also add our amendments to our compost pile just as the temperature lowers below 115*f. These amendments will break down over the 2-3 month resting period.

It seems very counterproductive to me to heat or cook our humus material in the stove. Why kill all the life that we just spent all this time to raise through the composting and/or worm casting process? This life helps feed our plants.

To each their own. I understand some folks are afraid of/or ignorant to having "bugs" in their soils.

When making a soil mix or super soil I like to mix everything together minus the majority of the humus component...compost and castings. I only add a little of the compost in initially. I put my castings and the rest of the compost aside to be turned in after the initial mix drops back down below 115*f. This is done so the mesophiles aren't destroyed during the "heating"/thermophilic stage of the process.

It's late, I'm tired. I'll check back in the morning to see how to see how is reads.
 
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Willie

🍓Crush Genetics🍓
Only the internet can make composting complicated............meanwhile the theory of throwing it in a pile and letting it rot doesn't need much improvement or any deep understanding :) ymmv
 

jaguarlax

Tactical Gardener
Staff member
Moderator
Great write up brother @J. James. Very well written! Thanks for sharing.

I'm going to elaborate a bit in hope of answering some of the above questions.

The ratio of browns to greens or C to N can vary quite a bit when making a compost pile. I've seen ratios of 20-1 or greater in some piles. Many things are relative when composting.

The amount of sugars/carbohydrates is a very important factor to consider when making your compost pile. Sugars/carbs feed microbes.

When a compost pile reaches temperatures over 115*f it's considered thermophilic. Thermophiles are microbes that are active between 115*f -250*f. The reason a compost pile heats up is from the biochemical processes of microbes. Thermophiles will break organic material down faster than mesophiles. This is why we try to keep a minimum of 3'x3'x3' dimensions when building the pile. A pile this size or larger will hold the heat better.

A compost pile under 115*f is considered mesophilic. Mesophiles are microbes that are active in the temperature range between about 68*f - 115*f. It's important to give the compost a proper resting period after the pile has cooled below 115*f...preferably 2-3 months. This is when the broad spectrum of mesophiles take back over. Mesophiles are the microbes we want in our soil.

Yes, a properly prepared compost can be mixed straight into your soil or top dressed in the grow room. This is the humus material portion, 25% - 30% of your initial mix. More or less depending on personal preference or growing methodology. Worm castings are also considered humus material. One could use compost or castings or a mixture of both when making soil.

Considering finished compost and finished castings are mesophilic. We dont really want them to heat back up when we make our soils. This heat or thermophilic activity is decimating the broad spectrum of mesophiles we want in our finished soil.

Ideally we want to add our soil amendments to our worm bin or compost pile. When adding amendments to the worm bin it's best to add a little at a time so it doesn't heat up and chase our worms away. The worms will process this material making it bioavailable to the plants. We could also add our amendments to our compost pile just as the temperature lowers below 115*f. These amendments will break down over the 2-3 month resting period.

It seems very counterproductive to me to heat or cook our humus material in the stove. Why kill all the life that we just spent all this time to raise through the composting and/or worm casting process? This life helps feed our plants.

To each their own. I understand some folks are afraid of/or ignorant to having "bugs" in their soils.

When making a soil mix or super soil I like to mix everything together minus the majority of the humus component...compost and castings. I only add a little of the compost in initially. I put my castings and the rest of the compost aside to be turned in after the initial mix drops back down below 115*f. This is done so the mesophiles aren't destroyed during the "heating"/thermophilic stage of the process.

It's late, I'm tired. I'll check back in the morning to see how to see how is reads.
i think it reads pretty alright man. Thanks for sharing. Quite informative.
 

Willie

🍓Crush Genetics🍓
I've taken 100 sifted gallons out of my compost pile so far this spring.............sadly, that pile is almost kaput ;) The new pile is forming..........started with a base of browns in the fall.......then food and plant waste all winter..............now more browns via the leaves I never picked up last year..........green stuff coming up. Getting ready for the first pile toss :)
 
I've been working on 2 nice size piles, gathered a ton of leaves this fall, heaped em up in the bins for storage, now I've been saving all the nice early spring growth from mowing and I'll be building one giant heap here in a week or so, need more greens lol but as stated above ill be adding in a few things to the pile per the chapter on composting in the intelligent gardener book, the old theory of simply pile and rot works great but what if your materials grew in mineral deficient soils, you'll be compounding the problem by not adding back mineral dense materials to the pile, ill be using kelp,alfalfa, meals, native clay and soil and a tiny bit of azomite and then water it in with some fish emulsion, never done it this way before but in my mind with the time invested in doing it I may as well get the best possible end result I can, love to hear some more input from the other decomposers here ✌✌🖖🖖
 
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