A brief overview.
Is the Continuous method of composting too slow for you? If so, here’s how to speed up your results.
If you are lucky enough to have access to a generous amount of waste material, and if you are well-organised and willing to expend the effort, you may prefer to stock-pile your ingredients and then to build a heap all in one hit. This is called Batch Composting. Because the initial mass of your pile is greater than in a ‘continuous’ pile which grows bit by bit, you can with a little extra attention, achieve higher temperatures, thus accelerating the speed of decomposition.
When using the Batch system, you may find that a second or even a third pile becomes desirable, as once established and working well, disturbing your first one by adding more raw materials will tend to slow things down. Use a second batch of waste from your stock-pile to ensure a constant supply of the ‘black gold’.
Guidelines for Batch Composting
Your initial heap should be at least 1 cubic yard (metre) in volume. This allows heat to build and speeds up the process. Make sure your stock-pile contains enough raw materials to complete each heap.
- Use twiggy, coarse material for the bottom layer.
- Add green, then brown materials about 7 cm (3 inches) deep, dampening each layer with the spray setting on your hose, as you go.
- You may care to use a small amount of activator (purists say this should not be necessary, but when just starting out…) or alternatively, a few handsful of garden soil, to assist in stimulating decomposition.
- To help keep the ingredients warm and to protect them from rain, cover them with a tarpaulin or some sort of sheeting, anchored against the wind.
- For optimum results, turn the ingredients frequently, at least every 7-10 days. This oxygenates the mix, keeping temperatures high, so speeding up the process.
- Check weekly that your ingredients are not drying out and water sparingly, if necessary.
- Remember, because this is, once again, an “open” pile, you should not be trying to compost meat and dairy waste. The risk of animal visitors is just too high. Any kitchen waste you do add should be well buried in the centre of the heap or at least covered with a layer of grass clippings, some soil or dry leaves. (A piece of old carpet does a good job,too.)
When you are Batch Composting, adding new materials after your compost has been established is not a good thing. Each addition interrupts the process and slows things up. Best to start to stock-pile a new lot of ingredients and then to start afresh in a second bin once you have collected enough materials to make up around 1 cubic meter.
With enough space in which to store your ingredients, with a generous supply of materials and room to house your bins, Batch Composting is perfect when done in a 3-bin set-up. Learn more about this from here.
Compost achieved – up to 3 months if you do it right