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8 Ways to Compost

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8 Ways to Compost

By Sami Grover, TreeHugger

Want to compost, but not sure where to start? Confused about the difference between hot compost and cold compost? Considering worm composting, or perhaps even grub composting?

Whether you have a gigantic garden and oodles of time and energy, or a balcony and an overbooked schedule, there is a composting technique that is right for you. Here’s a tour of the most common—and some more unusual—forms of composting.

Feel free to share your own tips with readers in the comments.

Hot Composting

By creating conditions where microorganisms thrive, hot composting generates significant amounts of heat—enough, in fact, to warm a shower with compost or even cook on your compost heap.

Hot composting is not rocket science, and it doesn’t require expensive equipment or capital outlay. But it does need some careful attention, and the ability to gather significant amounts of the right kinds of biomass.

You need to mix significantly more carbon-rich, woody “brown” materials with smaller amounts of nitrogen rich “greens” (kitchen scraps, lawn clippings etc). How exact you want to be is up to you, but the correct ratio is about 25 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen. (For the truly geeky, a friend of mine has even created an iPhone app to help you maintain compost ratios!)

You will also need to spend some time turning the heap every few weeks.

While managing these hot compost bins in his community garden, fellow TreeHugger Chris Tackett found that communication is as important as building the heap itself:

“The challenge with composting in a community garden smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood is getting everyone informed about the process and where things like food scraps and grass clippings should go.

“With the “hot” bins, I wanted to layer them with the right mix of browns and greens and then let them process and break down before adding loads of new material, so we’re trying some signage to explain which bins are ‘active’ and where extra browns and vegetable peelings should go.”

With a really hot heap, in the right conditions, you may achieve usable results in just a few months.

Image credit: nancybeetoo / Flickr

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102 comments

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4:42AM PST on Feb 18, 2014

thank you

8:50PM PST on Feb 16, 2014

Very informative. Especially the part about peeing on compost.

8:59PM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

always something to learn.......

8:57AM PDT on Aug 13, 2013

Thank you, AWESOME ARTICLE; I did not know all of these.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/80-items-you-can-compost.html#ixzz2bri61IGf

8:06AM PDT on Aug 4, 2013

Thanks 4 the suggestions.

7:18AM PDT on Aug 4, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

10:52PM PDT on Aug 3, 2013

Thanks for the tips.

4:16AM PDT on Jul 12, 2013

Is it eco-friendly?

7:05PM PDT on May 21, 2013

compost everything, and share the some of the worms with my neighbor's chickens

11:40AM PST on Feb 2, 2013

growing up, we had a large garden and every fall my dad and brothers would collect the curbside bagged leaves and dump them on the garden to compost over the winter. in the spring, they were plowed in. we had the richest garden soil around. no fertilizer required.

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