If you’ve been considering venturing into the world of off grid living, composting may be one of the best places to start.
Maybe you are already enjoying a homestead lifestyle and want to add another layer of sustainability by feeding your garden soil with nutrient-rich organic matter.
Rest assured that composting is both simple and beneficial when done right!
With the right understanding and approach, anyone can make it work – no experience necessary, below we will show you a step-by-step guide on composting from building your own enclosure to making your first compost heap.
So let’s get started on introducing you to this great way to reduce waste while creating nutrient-dense fertilizers for use in your garden!
How to build a compost enclosure
To protect your compost heap from animals and pests, you may want to first build a compost enclosure.
Here’s how to build a compost enclosure.
1. Find A Location
First, choose an adequate location for your enclosure – it should be free from underground obstructions such as tree roots or drains.
At least three feet away from your house, sheltered from the rain, so near a tree is a good spot as it gets some cover but also gets plenty of sunlight.
Make sure it is easily accessible so you are able to regularly add compostable items
2. Tools & Materials
Make sure you have all the correct tools & materials you will need for this project before you start.
You will need 4 x 5 feet high fence posts and 4 inches thick, use longer posts if you want a taller enclosure, youll also need a lot of timber planks for the sides 6 inches by 1 inch is a good size for this, or old timber pallets if you can get hold of them.
Make sure the timber planks are treated so they do not rot.
Tools such as a hammer, measuring tape, string, stakes or metal pegs, shovel or clamshell digger, handsaw, spirit level and drill, 50mm long screws and 30mm long nails, use galvanized steel screws & nails as they won’t rust over time, 4 bags of postcrete or ready made post mix, a clean bucket, and a roll of wire mesh.
3. Securing Fence Posts
Measure the size of the enclosure you would like, using string and stakes to create the desired size square for the compost enclosure.
To get digging, use a spade or clamshell digger to cut an initial circle into the ground slightly larger than the size of your post about a foot circle should be fine, and around 2 feet deep this will ensure that your post stays firmly in place once installed
Do this on each corner.
Now place the post in the hole and use the spirit level and make sure the post is level on all sides.
This part will be easier if you have two people, hold the post still and pour a bucket of water into the hole, then pour the postcrete into the hole.
Once this is done the post should be firm enough to let go. Again check that the post is level before the post mix sets.
Repeat this stage on the other three posts.
Backfill with the soil that you have taken out to fill in the holes back in and compress down with your feet the soil around the posts.
4. Wire Meshing
Now all of the fence posts are upright and solid, it’s time to add an extra layer of protection by nailing wire mesh around the entire perimeter.
It’s also a good idea to make sure your fence posts are at least 3 feet tall so animals can’t get in. Once the wire mesh of nailed all the way around the enclosure, we can start cladding the enclosure.
5. Cladding The Sides
Start by measuring the outside edge of one post to the outside of the second post, and mark the timber plank with a pencil.
Now cut the timber plank you have just marked up, starting at the bottom, screw the plank to the posts horizontally, making sure the plank is level before screwing it to the posts.
Do not sit one plank on top of another, instead leave a gap of around an inch on the next one to allow air flow.
Keep doing this until you reach your desired height on one side, then repeat on the other three sides.
Well done you have just built your first compost heap!
How to make a compost heap
Here’s how to make a compost heap in three simple steps
1. Start by collecting organic materials like vegetable scraps, leaves, grass clippings and manure. Avoid putting in any animal products or cooked foods as they will attract pests
2. Create a base layer of organic material that is at least one foot deep. As you continue to add compostable materials, create layers of similar materials such as food scraps and leaves
3. To ensure a good composting process, it’s important to make sure the compost heap remains moist. It should also be turned regularly with a compost fork so air is able to reach the composting materials
Once your compost heap is set up, make sure you are adding compostable items on a regular basis and turning it every few weeks.
In time, you’ll have nutrient-rich compost that can be used to improve your garden.
What Can You Compost?
Composting is an eco-friendly way to divert organic waste away from landfills, and it’s easier than you might think!
With a few simple materials and tips, almost any organic material can be composted.
Fruits and vegetables are an obvious choice to add to the compost pile, but paper products like newspaper or wrapping paper can also be added.
Coffee grounds, tea bags, and the occasional eggshell are all great foods for your compost heap as well.
A healthy balance of “brown” items such as leaves or sawdust with “green” items like food scraps will ensure a better mix of nutrients in your compost pile.
In no time, you’ll have nutritious soil that’s perfect for enriching your favourite plants & vegetables!
What Shouldn’t You Compost
Composting is a fantastic way to cut down on household waste, and reduce your carbon footprint.
However, not everything should be composted.
Dairy products and meat are hazardous because they can attract pests and potentially spread diseases.
Fats and oils should also be kept out of the compost pile; they accelerate decomposition at an unnatural rate which produces an excess of heat and unbalanced pH levels.
It’s essential that yard trimmings such as grass clippings or leaves are added in moderation to avoid a surplus of nitrogen which could impede decomposition.
Lastly, you want to make sure to keep out items like plastic bags or rubber bands; materials that won’t break down in the compost pile will simply accumulate, creating a mess and potential hazard.
Composting can be fun and rewarding but just remember what not to put into it before you get started!
Building a compost enclosure is an easy way to keep your compost under control while also protecting it from animals.
With a compost heap & enclosure, you can enjoy healthy compost all year round.