There are many ways to store and make compost, here we’re going to describe some of them. This is going to be Sparrow constructions basic run through on different composting methods. The quickest advice we can give you is to go for a Half and half ratio. “Brown” materials are generally dead and heavy in carbon and “Green” materials are more recent and have more nitrogen inside. We hope that with the general advice and link trees to further information you can make the best of any compost pile you are making!

On-ground composting

On-ground composting comes with the benefit of making it easy for certain animals like earthworms to get inside the materials to help break them down. The downside is the same though, animals that might smell something interesting in your compost piles may decide to tear them apart to find something worth eating. While this shouldn’t be too much of a problem for reassembling the pile it can pose a danger for pets both from the animals visiting and if they decide to snack on it themselves.

Pictured: a mound of compost and manure over 8 feet tall in height and of a great width.

Semi-contained compost

This brings us to Semi-contained methods of compost storing which is restricting access to the piles but not to airflow or weather. Wooden pallets are fairly good for this if you can acquire them since they are relatively sturdy and don’t degrade quickly. You will have fewer problems with pests but there’s no guarantee they’ll leave them alone. When making either semi contained or on-ground you will still have to worry about insects that are attracted to it, while some can be beneficial most people don’t want spawning dens near their homes. Larger animals will have a harder time getting into semi-contained compost piles.

Pictured: different types of vegetable and fruit scrapes laying on top of older compost inside a composting area surrounded by wooden planks.

Fully-contained compost

Fully contained composting methods are done with either bins or tumblers. This is the method that has the highest amount of control for composting, but if you are inexperienced making compost can prove the most trouble for getting the bacteria to cooperate. Tumblers are designed so that you can manually agitate the compost when adding material, while bins will just have materials placed on top. Many models can have features like holes to add airflow, built-in temperature readers, or even moisture monitors.

Some Best Practices

Learn what mixtures work best for you, but the materials you are looking for mostly are Nitrogen, Carbon, and Water combined. Every person and family has different diets compiling a list of every conceivable material here wouldn’t too beneficial for outlining practices. However, there is a very basic rule, greens (nitrogen) and browns (carbon).

When using grass clippings, if they’ve been in contact with weed-killing chemicals these can be devastating to the types of bacteria you want to cultivate. The same applies to fruits and vegetables if they’re also been in contact with pesticides. For more information on this specific subject, go here.

Unwanted materials that can technically compost but have undesirable effects are meat, bones, dairy, and fish. Dairy and meat (which includes fish) tend to produce very rotten smells that can attract animals the most. Bones take too long to compost to be effective in the timescale that is desirable for plant mulch. Pet droppings are also not beneficial given that they can have their own bacteria cultures inside them and can have differentiated PH such as dog droppings which are acidic. Other common materials and reasons why we don’t use them can be found here.

Similar to unwanted materials, there is organic matter that can benefit OR hinder your compost depending on your planning. Acidic products like coffee grounds are usable in compost however, unless you are willing to find foods that are slightly more basic to counterbalance the acidity you are adding, you may want to investigate plants that thrive under more acidic soil instead. The opposite would also apply if you have a pile that is basic, but this is much more difficult to do based on the number of foods that are common that we eat that are basic.