a) Choose a suitable place.
Your compost heap needs a certain amount of shade and should be protected from the sun. A good place is under a deciduous tree, which gives shade in the summer and lets the sunlight through in the winter. This keeps the material moist. It also needs to be easily accessible and sheltered from the wind. The compost must not be placed on a compacted or impermeable surface such as concrete, but on earth through which water can drain and filter. Being on the earth also allows worms and other small organisms to get into the compost heap or box and they help to break down the organic material and speed up its transformation into humus.
b) Compost can be made in a healp, a box or a barrel.
You don’t need to worry about unpleasant odours – a well-made compost heap doesn’t give off any. If it does smell, it means something is not right. This can be resolved by digging the pile over, mixing it well and ventilating it.
In a heap:
Pile up the remains in a small heap about 1-1.20 m wide and 1 m high. The width of the base and the height should be respected, but it can be as long as you like.
In a box:
Make a box using wooden slats with spaces in between to allow air to enter. It should take up approximately 1 square metre of space and have a maximum height of 1 metre.
In a metal barrel:
In a large metal barrel make at least four rows of 2-3 cm holes and a 30 cm wide, 15 cm high opening at the bottom.
In a plastic barrel:
This is a plastic container known as a composter. It is filled from the top and emptied from the bottom, as the compost matures.
c) How to make the heap or fill the composter
1st step. At the bottom of the box or pile we place an initial layer of the thickest material (small branches), which should be about 20 cm thick. This is to allow air to circulate. We have to take into account that decomposition is an aerobic process, in other words, it needs oxygen.
2nd step. The second layer is made up of dry garden waste and well-mixed kitchen waste.
3rd step. Now we can add the organic remains we produce every day. It’s a good idea to mix them with the top layer of the pile and from time to time alternate them with a fine layer of soil (about 2 cm).
Finally, we cover the whole pile with a layer of soil some 2 cm thick and some straw, branches or sacks to prevent it drying out; plastic should never be used as it hinders ventilation.