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Composting is like baking a cake. Simply add the ingredients, stir, "bake" and out comes - compost!
Below are a few basic steps to follow, together with the ingredients and general directions for composting. (Don't forget to add the two secret ingredients: air and moisture).
1. Choose a "pot" for baking your compost in. Any type of composting bin will do even an old plastic dustbin can be used, just cut the bottom out or use two broken wooden pallets - you should be able to get these from a pallet merchants but you may find that a builder will let you have them free of charge.
Take care when dismantling the pallet and make sure that any sharp staples are cut off to prevent injury. The 2 by 4 inch sections provide good uprights and the pallet platform slats can be nailed up the sides. Leave an inch gap between each side panel.
Make sure your bin has a lid to prevent the compost material from becoming waterlogged and that the base of the compost heap is in a shallow hole to aid stability and ensure that any liquids from the degrading process are contained at its base.
2. Place your "green" waste into the composting bin. Chop or shred the materials if you want them to compost quickly.
3. Spread a little "already done" compost over the compost pile. This layer contains the micro-organisms and soil animals that do the work of making the compost. It also helps keep the surface from drying out.
4. Add water to a pile that is too dry, and dry straw or sawdust to soggy materials. The materials should be damp to the touch, but not so wet that drops come out when you squeeze it.
5. Allow the pile to "bake". It should heat up quickly and reach the desired temperature (between 32 and 60°C) in four to five days. Larger piles heat up better. Minimum size 3 feet x 3 feet x 3 feet.
6. Add air by stirring or turning.
7. The pile will reduce in size, this is a good sign that the compost is baking properly.
8. If you mix or turn your compost pile every week, it should be "done", or ready for use, in one or two months. If you don't turn it, the compost should be ready in about six to twelve months.
9. Your compost should look like dark crumbly soil mixed with small pieces of organic material. It should have a sweet, earthy smell.
10. Feed compost to hungry plants by mixing it with the soil.