Compost is a process and product of organic waste being broken down into nutrient rich soil. Compost is a great way to increase your percent of soil organic matter within your farm or home garden. As well, immobilized nutrients within the organic waste are broken down and made available for plant intake through the composting process. The Farm to You NH spring team just built their first compost pile! We decided to share this process in hopes to help you better develop your home or farm made compost pile! Lastly, we wanted to give a special thanks to the Fairchild Dairy and UNH Dining. The Fairchild dairy provided us with the manure we used within our pile and UNH Dining provided us with food waste to be added as organic matter.
Notes for completing a successful compost pile:
- Remember 5x5x5. For the pile to be able to properly compost, it needs to be 5ft length by 5ft height by 5ft width.
- Temperature should be taken from the center of the pile every few days
- The first phase of the pile should quickly raise 50-112 F and should only last about a week
- After this time, the pile should raise 114-150 F for about 2-4 weeks
- The last phase of the pile will show the temperature slowly decreasing; this phase will last about 3 months
- If there are dips within temperature of the pile during the first two phase, the pile needs to be turned (oxygen fuels the metabolism of the decomposers within the pile)
- Make sure to break down your ingredients into the smallest possible particles you can achieve (this helps increase the rate of decomposition)
- When building a pile, do not forget to incrementally spray the pile with water. The moisture is for the microbes, but it also helps soften the pile ingredients
- You want to create a Carbon to Nitrogen ration of at least 30:40
- Think greens for Nitrogen
- Think browns for Carbon
Here are the 11 steps we took in constructing our compost pile:
1. We started off by spreading the remains of our previous years compost pile over a 5×5 area. For our base layer, we spread fresh organic waste.
2. We use hay as our “brown” material to increase the amount of carbon in our pile. We then gave the pile a quick spray down with our hose.
3. On top of our layer of hay, we spread another layer of organic waste matter
4. A layer of fresh manure provided from the Fairchild Dairy
5. Another layer of hay was spread as well as some of the left-over compost from the previous year. Also, one bucket of organic waste material was added. More water was sprayed on pile at this stage
6. Another layer of Manure was added and spread on top of the pile
7. Greens were added for Nitrogen
8. Dried brush was applied. Remember “browns” = Carbon!
9. Our last layer of organic waste matter was added
10. The last layer of hay and manure was added and spread
11. Finally, the pile was covered with a plastic tarp to help protect it from the elements