Last weekend I joined a dozen hardy souls braving the heavy rain and wind for a workshop on composting presented by Michelle of Organic by Design. I'm familiar with Bokashi composting and worm farms but was keen to find out more about hot composting.

Hot composting relies on heat to speed up the break-down of organic matter and destroy any pathogens and weed seeds; the temperature needs to reach 65-68 degrees celcius. Building a hot compost heap requires a bit of organisation. Firstly you need enough material on hand and a big enough area to build a heap about 1.5 cubic metres in size, and then some old carpet or heavy sacks to lay over the top once its built. Garden and grass clippings, manures, seaweed, hay, paper/cardboard (noncoloured) and food wastes (except fats or meat) can be added.

Here we are building the compost heap.

Starting with a base of branches and twigs you add alternating layers of green/moist material to brown/dry material ensuring there is a combination of coarse to fine material for aeration, and dampening the layers as you go. Adding an activator of beneficial microorganisms to the layers also helps, for example EM. Cover to insulate. Avoid saturating the heap with water so cover with a tarpaulin during heavy rainfall. The compost heap needs turning twice over the first week or so and takes about 3-6 months to mature, which is much faster than traditional cold composting which can take up to a year to mature.

If you were wondering about Bokashi composting I've been using this system for almost a year now, turning kitchen waste and food scraps into fermented material that is ready to be dug into the soil after a matter of weeks. My collection bucket sits in the corner of kitchen with no smell. In the evening I add the collected food scraps from the day along with a tablespoon of Compost-Zing powder (this contains the beneficial microorganisms that ferment the wastes). Pop the lid on tight and that's it. Once the bucket is full you set it aside for 1 - 2 weeks and then dig it into your soil. Easy, fast and good for the environment.


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