From the plant kingdom you get humus. This comes from
leaves, grass clippings, etc. Here are some sources from the plant
kingdom: hay, leaves, apple skins (ash), banana skins ash), coffee grounds,
cottonseed meal, peanut shells, pine needles,
A word about Human Hair
Human hair contains nitrogen and other trace minerals. Because of the amounts of
chemicals used on hair these days at the beauty parlor the hair will
not properly compost. Therefore use hair from a men's
salon instead of a woman's, as most men do not use these chemicals.
Hair also takes too long to compost within 60 days and therefore should be used in the
sheet method described later.
The Animal Kingdom
any or all if you can of: Cattle, chickens, horses, sheep, llamas,
goats, rabbits, and ducks. Best is aged at least 4 months.
Trace minerals also come from various sources such as:
coffee wastes, silica sand, bay crab meal, kelp meal, (hair is a good
source of trace mineral but should be composted well before
using) (hoof and horn meal, bone meal, and blood meal are all optional). Animal manures are
also rich in various trace minerals (always vary your manure source).
To Bin or not to Bin?
When you begin to take into consideration what
you have available to work with, you will then have to decide whether to go
the bin route or the pile route. In short if you need a lot of
compost then the piles are easier and faster then using bins. Bins on the other hand
work fine for a person with a small garden/home. Three bins min. are
suggested. They should be at least 3ft by 5ft by 4ft high and made of wood.
There are many books available on making compost bins. See pic above for an example.
Is it Rotting or Not?
If it doesn't smell bad and looks good
and dark like rich earth then it's done!
Heat is important in compost making. When making bins or
piles, the bigger the pile the more heat it will be
capable of producing. Too small a pile, and too much heat is lost.
Bacteria love heat and work best within a range of 140-180 F. Too big a
pile will compress the material too tightly and
make decomposition a slow process. Also too much heat will kill off
bacteria. 4 to 6 ft tall is the proper height for a
compost pile. This pile will shrink as composting takes place.
This method can also be done during the winter time as the pile is big enough to
generate its own heat. You monitor the temp to make sure the pile heats up enough.
proper Carbon-Nitrogen ratio is important for proper composting. Nitrogen is needed to
help heat up the compost. Carbon is needed as the fuel. Adding natural sources of
Nitrogen (in the form of alfalfa meal, manure or any organically nitrogen
rich material) will increase its energy level, allowing for great
activity of the bacteria present. Moisture is important in
the composting process, but it must not be soggy. I would not concern
myself with this ratio; just work with what you have, keeping in mind the
balance required to make the compost pile work right. The ratio will come out just
right if you apply a little bit from each kingdom as mentioned