Our three bay compost system
Deciding on what compost system to use is very important. Depending on where you live, how much room you have and how much you need to make to use in your garden are all key factors to the decision. For the best results in any yard build your compost directly on the ground surface to allow all the worms and other organisms to get into your heap. For those using the mulch from the compost in their vegetable gardens it is best to put your compost system close by so it is handy to use.
Hot or cold compost. Cold compost is the natural decay of the material, it is similar to what you will see on the floor of a rain forest and this takes a longer time to decompose. A cold compost heap can be used for those who are not as proactive with aeration or those who live in cooler climates. A hot system requires a little love as it needs to be monitored for the ratio of brown and green material, regularly aerated but you will be rewarded sooner with usable compost for you garden. A hot system in a way is helping the natural process of decay in the cold composting system. Hot systems are usually one cubic meter to create heat in the pile. I prefer this method of composting though we do have a large heap for cold composting which is just brown waste.
For those avid gardeners like me who have a large veggie patch and plenty of room to work with a three bay system is ideal. Starting your compost in the first bay you slowly move it to the second and then store the finally compost in the last bay ready to use. We have plenty of brown waste on our property that goes into our heap yet we also add plenty of manure and kitchen scraps to keep the balance.
For inner-city dwellers I recommend making a large cylinder of wire mesh 1m in diameter to hold your compost if you have a back yard. For those with even a smaller space to work with I would set up a small worm farm and use the casting and worm juice to feed your plants.
Photo found on Flickr.com courtesy of Carolyn
Maintenance. Your compost heap must be regularly aerated using a fork or star picket poked in the top to allow the air through the mix. For quicker decomposition cut your ingredients into smaller pieces. Keep a regular stream of nitrogen rich foods into your compost and add activators to keep it thriving – read what to put in your compost.