Hot composting without turning? (is there another way) – yes there is and all you have to do to find out is to read this article and (maybe) take some notes.
Without a shadow of a doubt, compost can happen without turning.
It happens in nature all the time and you can make hot compost without turning, at home by using a bit of physics, being inventive and by layering compost correctly.
Of course, having a tumbler to do the turning for you is ideal, but it’s not an absolute must.
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The Basis of compost
Compost is the result of natural materials being decomposed by naturally occurring bacteria.
When placed on the ground, the soil will hold on to water for longer, meaning that it will be better hydrated.
Also, compost acts as a fertilizer meaning that plants will grow better with less or none chemical fertilizers.
To pair an image to it you need to think about a forest and what the ground looks there.
There is never just dirt, right? It’s dirt and something that feels a bit soft when you step on it. It makes all these forest sounds when you move around.
That is compost, and that is how forests self regenerate all the time.
This natural process can be recreated at home, in order to reduce your footprint by recycling all sorts of items like:
- Food waste – peels, egg shells, scraps;
- Cardboard, paper and newspapers;
- Mowed grass;
- Almost anything organic.
Why would you want to make compost?
Saving the planet is not the only reason for which people make compost at home.
Compost is valuable and those who want a luxuriant garden or home-grown vegetables depend on it.
Many people use it for their greenhouses, and companies need a lot of it.
Even indoor plants need it and making it yourself saves you a trip to the DIY store where you can buy compost made by someone else.
Compost is scattered on the fields and the earth is turned, in order to obtain a good crop.
It can be a base for growing plants, or food for the dirt.
How is compost made?
Making compost sounds really complicated, because you need to follow certain steps, and make sure that you have the proportions right. It’s also a smelly and dirty job, right?
Well, yes but it’s different because it is not complicated at all, the proportions are 70% brown stuff to 30% green material, so that is pretty basic.
Compost smells pretty, like a forest would and there is no reason to get dirty while making it.
You will need two types of materials: green and brown
These colors are simplified as most products vary in color, but you will understand the notion in just a few seconds.
Brown materials are dry. Some of them used to be green, but are now brownish. Examples of brown material are:
- Shredded paper;
- Dry leaves;
- Wood chippings and twigs;
- Corn stalks;
- The dry part of the onion peel;
Green materials are wet meaning that they have at least some moisture in them. Here are some examples:
- Vegetal trimmings;
- Garden trimmings;
- Green weeds;
- Coffee grounds;
- Vegetable peels;
- Egg shells;
- Citrus peels
You need to layer brown and green materials, starting with the brown ones.
Then all is left to do is wet our pile, in order to preserve moisture and to turn it occasionally.
There are techniques that you can use to make compost without turning it, and we will discuss these a bit later in the article.
The reason behind using green and brown materials and for which there is a certain proportion of each is that in order for the compost to work its magic, it needs a good balance between nitrogen and carbon.
Each organic material has both, but some have more carbon, while others have more nitrogen.
For example, wood chips have a carbon to nitrogen ratio of 400:1. That is a lot of carbon, and you will need a lot of nitrogen to help it break down.
How fast can you make compost?
This is a very important question, especially if you just decided that this year you will want to grow your own vegetables in the garden or in the greenhouse.
If this is the case, you will need a lot of compost and you will need it fast. But how fast can you actually make it?
This is where hot compost comes in as it can dramatically shorten the process to as little as 20 days. The downside of hot composting is that it needs quite a lot of hand-holding if you want the fastest results.
While cold compost, the one that you pile up and just leave for a while (a year or even more in cold climates) you can make hot compost much faster because you will have more control.
What is hot composting?
Hot composting is a method of creating compost faster than it would happen if the temperature wasn’t controlled.
Those who choose to do it need compost fast and don’t have the time to wait for nature to take its course.
Creating a compost pile and allowing it to evolve naturally won’t result in high-quality compost either, because nature doesn’t pick favorites, like we do. And a “natural” or “cold” pile of compost will not efficiently keep weeds, molds and pathogens at bay.
So, the main reasons behind hot composting are time efficiency and quality of the product.
How to make hot compost?
The pile building process is similar, but the ratio of brown to green materials is different, ideally reaching 30:1.
Also the technique varies a lot because the pile needs more moisture and more venting, in order to promote the development of compost friendly bacteria.
The hot-turn method requires daily turning, and if the pile of compost is large, this can be quite some effort, and this is why we will look at alternatives to turning, in just a few moments.
Some people like to speed up the process by using help. A lot of help, the type that works for free and doesn’t complain.
You won’t find anyone like this on Craig’s list (well you might, but you should never engage), but maggots will do the dirty work, in hot compost and will break everything up with ease.
Even with their help, you would still need oxygen in there and a good vent. But how do you do that without turning the pile yourself?
Hot composting without turning? (is there another way)
For the average composter, turning the pile is no big deal, especially if the pile is small.
But for people who need a lot of compost this can mean that they need to shovel a lot since piles can be as large as their back garden.
If daily turning compost has gotten to you, you are in the right place because there is another way to do it and we will show you how.
Since hot composting implies a rather large number of aerobic bacteria (bacteria that need oxygen in order to survive), not airing the pile is out of the question.
So, we are going to look at ways of bringing fresh air to the pile of compost, without having to do the manual labor.
Tumblers allow the temperature inside the compost to get higher, because they are enclosed.
They also offer a simple solution to the turning process, as no one gets dirty turning the tumbler and they conserve moisture so you would rarely have to add water to prevent the pile from becoming too dry.
Even if compost tumblers seem great, they have a few disadvantages:
- They are quite expensive;
- Even the largest tumbler doesn’t allow for a huge pile of compost;
- Someone still has to turn it, even if it would be an easy and clean job.
Composting doesn’t sound like a geeky job, but it could be. You will need to be a bit technical or you can find a friend to help you.
In order to bring air inside a pile you don’t necessarily have to turn it, you can build a pile in a way that it will have a constant flow of air.
One way to do it is by building your compost area from pallets as these will give you a cheap and easy to use structure.
Next, pick some PVC pipes that would fit through the holes of the pallets and drill some holes in them.
Place at least two pipes in a vertical position and insert the rest diagonally, angled, through the holes of the pallets.
All the pipes need to stick out from the pile, allowing air to enter them, and to travel through the pile exiting from the holes that you drilled.
You can read more about this method here, where you can also find some pictures to help out with this project.
Use cardboard on the base pallet and then start with large, dry wood chippings that would naturally allow for gaps between them.
This method of airing a compost pile works in two ways.
It allows the wind to blow air inside the pile and it uses the chimney effect that allows for the circulation of air in the pile due to the difference of pressure from outside the pile.
Making and using your own compost will bring you great rewards, especially if you will grow your own vegetable garden, and knowing how to do it with less effort will give you one less thing to worry about.