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Separate layers or mix?

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  • Separate layers or mix?

    Hi folks,

    This is my first post as brand new member. I want to start a hot heap for making compost. I've read several things about it and as I understand I need carbon rich stuff, nitrogen rich stuff and some animal manure in a 3:2:1 ratio.
    They can be applied in layers at start, but my question is: once I finished all layers, do I need to mix everything or leave it be in layers?


  • #2
    The more often you turn your compost, the quicker it will break down. So, you can leave it in layers, and it will break down eventually, regardless, but you will get quicker results if you turn it at least a couple of times a season once it reaches critical mass which I think is a minimum of 3x3x3 feet. If you are especially ambitious, you can turn it any time it cools down. It is a great hillbilly workout.


    • #3
      Thx for the answer but it maybe I wasn't clear enough:

      I make my heap 1m3: I gather all materials stated in OP in right ratio's. I'll start with 15 cm of carbon rich material, 10 cm of nitrogen rich material and then 5 cm of horse manure. Together this is 30 cm. I repeat twice until heap is about 90 to 100 cm in height.

      At this point everything will be in layers. Now, I know you have to turn down the road, but what about the start once completing the heap? Do I leave the heap in layers once I build it to 1m3, or do I mix it at THAT point?


      • #4
        Personally, I would mix it every time I layer things in, since I would want faster compost, and since my green layers are normally grass clippings, which wad up if they are not mixed in with the browns, and then the manure is a wonderful catalyst for the whole thing. If my greens consist of rougher materials than grass, such as chopped up flowers, i am less inclined to turn it. And since my total bin size is 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet, when it gets pretty full i can't really turn it at all, but i will still fluff the things together as well as I can. You want to get that exothermic reaction going, and then leave it till it cools down, and then get it started again.

        So, compost is as much an art as it is a science, and there are many different philosophies on just depends on what end result you are seeking, the materials you are working with, and your physical capabilities.


        • #5
          I would just leave the layers in place for a month or so and then turn and mix the pile and let it "cook" some more. It will all break down quicker if you wet the materials as you put them in the pile.


          • #6
            Check this link. This is the best and fastest route to usable compost I've ever used. The Berkley method. You layer to start it but after that, just mix. When I add new material, I add it as a layer but two days later when I turn the pile, it gets distributed along with everything else.