Bunnings Workshop member Tim shared these hot composting bays to nourish his garden. Horticulturist and Workshop member Adam Woodhams shared the following about the composting process.
Composting is an interesting process. It naturally occurs in nature and is really better described as decomposition, with compost being the outcome of the process.
The process of composting naturally generates heat as the various microbes go about their work decomposing the material. In a natural setting, say fallen leaves beneath trees, the heat generated would not even be noticeable and in some cases may not even be present as material may just rot.
In a man-made composting system, there should always be heat as this is the indicator that the heap is working well and the heat is also required to kill any weed seeds present. In nature, material that breaks down is likely to be from a single source, like my fallen leaf example, but in a compost heap there will be mixed material – grass clippings, kitchen scraps, garden clippings and dry leaves. This will simplistically be called wet and dry material or nitrogen and carbon material, the aim being to keep the heap 50:50. Too wet or dry and the composting process won’t activate. To create a hot heap you also need good airflow as this provides the oxygen the composting process requires. Hence the nice open sides on Tim's bays.
Composting can be a very complex process, and personally I think people sometimes overcomplicate it. Our grandparents managed to get pretty good compost going without the help of 400 page books from experts on the topic.
Simple tips for a good, hot heap:
Don’t put your heap in full sun or heavy shade
Ensure good airflow
Keep the materials you put in balanced
Fork it over regularly
If it gets too dry, give it a light sprinkle and fork it
If it gets too wet, turn it over regularly to speed up the drying
If your heap doesn’t seem to be starting well, you can inoculate it by forking through a bag of good quality well-composted manure or water it with a bioactive product like Seasol. This will add bacteria to kick-start the process. You’ll even find there are compost accelerator products.
You can read more about project creator Tim in our member profile story Good for the soul.
How to make your own compost
Start composting with these helpful guides from the Bunnings team: