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Discover the Best Composting Methods for Soil Health

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Different Composting Methods To Build Soil Condition

Over the years, I’ve emphasized the importance of feeding the soil rather than the plants. You see, if you feed the ground, the plants will be healthier, and as a result, you’ll be happier. Our relationship with the soil in our gardens is two-way. What we get out of the relationship depends on what we put in.

Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. Food scraps and yard waste currently make up more than 30 percent of what we throw away and could be composted instead.

Table of Contents

Several posts I’ve written related to composting. That’s because to simplify gardening; you need to have good soil. Here we look at 15 different composting methods to improve your soil’s condition. Below are also some other posts that may interest you.

Are Face Masks Needed to Handle Compost and Potting Soil?
Can You Add Too Much Compost To Your Soil? The Facts!
Can You Use Compost Instead Of Potting Soil?
Compost bin size: How big do you need it?
Composting For Beginners The Complete Guide
Do Compost Bins Attract Rats? How to Prevent It!
Does Hugelkultur Really Work? What You Need To Know First!
Does Too Much Compost Hurt Your Plants? (Answered)
How long does it take for a compost pile to decompose?
How long does it take microbes to populate new topsoil?
Increase the Worm Population in Your Garden Beds & Compost
Is It Safe To Compost In Plastic?
Make The Most of Left Over or Used Compost (7 Ideas)
The Negatives of Composting At Home
The Top Benefits of Compost Tea
What is Cactus Compost, and How is it Made?
What is Organic Matter? How Does It Benefit My Garden
What is the Difference between Compost and Fertilizers?
Why Use Organic Matter in the Garden? Improve Fertility!

15 Different Composting Methods To Build Soil Condition

Compost ProcessOxygen or NotTime to Completion
Trench CompostingAnaerobicAn annual process
Vessel CompostingAerobic3  to 6 months
Static PileRisk of Anaerobic6 months to a year
Windrow CompostingAerobic6 to 8 weeks
Black bag CompostingAerobic or AnaerobicAerobic – 6 to 8 weeks Anaerobic – 1-year
VermicompostingAerobic3 to 4 months
Poultry Pen CompostingAerobic6 to 8 weeks + curing
Bokashi CompostingAnaerobic2 weeks plus 2 weeks
Mulch CompostingAerobicAn annual process
Multi-Pile CompostingAerobic6 to 8 weeks + curing
Pathway CompostingAnaerobicAn annual process
Continuous CompostingAerobic3-months onwards
Polytunnel CompostingAerobic6-weeks
Leaf CompostingAerobic6-weeks
Cactus CompostingAerobicInstant

Earth knows no desolation. She smells regeneration in the moist breath of decay.

George Meredith

My Book Composting Masterclass Is Available Now!

So many people struggle to make compost. It either takes an eternity to break down or becomes a smelly mess. I wrote this book so that you can learn what happens in your compost pile at the microscopic level and the fundamentals. Knowing this will allow you to understand at what stage your compost is, solve problems, and find solutions when making compost. Check out what others say about the book!

The most comprehensive book on composting I have ever read!

I thought I knew something about composting organic materials to use back in my garden as “black gold.” Still, Tony’s breaking down (pun intended) composting principles and methods has given me a better understanding of the whole process.

If you want to know everything about composting and becoming a Compost Master – read this book! 

Mark Valencia (Self-Sufficient Me)

1. The Trench Composting Process

Trench composting is an alternative to the more common practice of adding kitchen scraps directly to a compost pile. Hot (aerobic) composting methods require well-managed oxygen and moisture control to thrive. Trench composting doesn’t.

Trench composting is an anaerobic process that utilizes different microorganisms that are still active at very low oxygen levels. Large soil organisms like worms and earthworms play an essential role in breaking down organic material. Composting in trenches is one of the best methods when it comes to increasing your garden’s worm population.

Pros & Cons Of Trench Composting

Composting in trenches does not require constant turning of the pile. If the old one fills up, you’ll have to start over and dig a new trench. If you’re working with a small area, start by digging a 12-15 inch deep and 8-10 inches wide trench.

For the most part, gardeners follow a simple three-year rotation:

  • Year 1: Filling trench with kitchen waste and other organic matter.
  • Year 2: Year one’s covered trench is now a pathway, and you’re filling an adjacent trench with organic waste
  • Year 3: Year one’s trench is your first vegetable bed. Year two’s trench is the pathway. You have started a new compost trench adjacent to the current path – which was last year’s trench.

To fill the trenches, break up the composted material into small pieces and combine it with soil. Fill the trench to the brim with dirt and backfill it with at least 8 inches of soil. Dry compost materials need to be moistened before backfilling.

Various waste materials can be safely composted, such as peelings, eggshells, coffee grounds, and bakery products. Avoid fats, fish, and pet feces, as these attract rodents.

2. How Does In-Vessel Composting Work

Composting in a container allows you to handle much more significant amounts of waste than the windrow method does while using much less space (e.g., meat, animal manure, biosolids, food scraps). Organic waste is fed into a drum, silo, trench lined with concrete, or similar equipment. It is mechanically turned or mixed to ensure the material is aerated correctly. This gives you better control of temperature, humidity, and airflow. The vessel’s size and capacity can vary widely.

Compost is created in a matter of weeks using this technique. The microbial activity must balance for a few more weeks or months, and the pile must cool before it is ready for use.

Things to Think About

  • Small enough to be used in a restaurant’s or a school’s kitchen.
  • Some of them are enormous – as big as a school bus. The use of these is common in large food processing facilities.
  • The ability to regulate the climate, often electronically, means this method can be used all year round.
  • Use indoors or with insulation in freezing weather is possible.
  • There is very little odor or leachate generated.
  • This approach is pricey and may necessitate specialized technical knowledge to use correctly.
  • Composting in windrows consumes a lot of land and labor.

I created a video to help gardeners compost their garden and kitchen waste at home.

3. Static Compost Piles

As the name implies, static compost is left alone to decompose until the pile has been reduced to usable compost.

Constructing Your Static Compost Pile
Most static piles are fed gradually from the kitchen and yard, so the decomposition rate will vary. As is true for all compost preparation methods, smaller particles decompose more quickly in compost.

 It will optimize your composting process to shred the parts you add. To keep the bottom of the pile partially aerated, use a straw, twigs, or even an oak palette as a base. Some static piles also make use of forced aeration.

Method of static pile composts

Keep a bucket of wood shavings or straw handy at the pile. When adding kitchen scraps, cover them with sawdust or straw. Decomposition will be aided, moisture retained, and the smell of the pile will be masked. Turning your compost for this method is unnecessary, but occasionally flipping your pile will help deal with anaerobic pockets and speed up decomposition.

4. What is Windrow Composting?

Aerated or turned windrow composting is suited for large volumes generated by entire communities and collected by local governments and high-volume food-processing businesses (e.g., restaurants, cafeterias, packing plants). It will yield significant amounts of compost, which might require assistance marketing the end product. Local governments may want to make the compost available to residents for a low or no cost.

This composting involves forming organic waste into rows of long piles called “windrows” and aerating them periodically, manually or mechanically turning the piles. The ideal pile height is between four and eight feet, with a width of 14 to 16 feet. This size pile is large enough to generate enough heat and maintain temperatures. It is small enough to allow oxygen to flow to the windrow’s core.

Large volumes of mixed waste can be composted through this method, such as yard trimmings, grease, liquids, and animal by-products (such as fish and poultry).

Points to Note

  • Several things are needed to make windrow composting work: a lot of land, heavy equipment, and a steady supply of workers to keep it running. You’ll also need a lot of time to experiment with different materials, mixtures and turning frequencies.
  • Windows may be covered or sheltered to reduce water loss if the climate is particularly hot and dry.
  • Pile shapes can be changed during rainy seasons to direct water away from the pile rather than allowing it to soak into it.
  • Cold climates can benefit from windrow composting. The pile’s outer edges may freeze, but the temperature inside a windrow can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Composting releases a liquid called leachate. This has the potential to contaminate nearby surface and groundwater sources. Collection and treatment are both required.
  • Large-scale windrow composting operations may be subject to regulation, permitting, and siting restrictions. Bacterial and heavy metal content in compost should be analyzed in a lab.
  • The general public should be aware of the project and provided with a mechanism for lodging complaints about the animals or the project itself. It’s also necessary to be mindful of emerging bad smells.

Never plant without a bucket of compost at your side.

Elsa Bakalar

5. Black Bag Composting For Small Spaces

You’ll need a 30-gallon-sized garbage bag to start with. I advise using a more robust type bag like this one from Amazon.

When it comes to composting, leaves will be the most prevalent component. Thus, you’ll discover that autumn is the ideal time to begin working on this project. There will be a lot of leaves on the ground when fall arrives. You’re going to have to rake and get rid of them anyhow. Instead of throwing them away, compost them instead.

If the leaves are too wet, try shredding them. If the leaves are too dry, try crushing them. During the decomposition process, there will be less effort required. Each garbage bag should be three-quarters filled with crushed or shredded leaves. If your lawnmower has a catching bag, you can use it to shred your leaves.

Composting cannot begin until nitrogen microbes are present. Animal manure or uric acid (from urine) are both viable options. Fill the bag of leaves to the top with a shovel’s worth of leaves. You can start with some dirt dug up from a nearby wooded area as an alternative. By adding soil to the bag mix, you’re creating a favorable environment for nitrogen-fixing microbes.

It’s time to decide how to compost the material after filling the black garbage bags with the abovementioned ingredients. Anaerobic and aerobic processes are the two options. Composting by anaerobic means does not require the addition of oxygen. To be aerobic, you must have access to an oxygen source. Consider the following benefits and drawbacks of each.

Anaerobic Composted Material

Anaerobic composting is a good option if you don’t want to be involved in the process until it’s done. Allow some time to pass while the garbage bags are tightly sealed to prevent oxygen from leaking out. In about a year, the decomposed material will be ready.

A highly acidic environment is created due to the lack of oxygen in the atmosphere. If your plants thrive in acidic soil, anaerobic composting may be an option for you. This has the advantage of requiring little in the way of upkeep or effort on your part. Please note that this option will produce some methane gas that smells unpleasant and is flammable.

Aerobic Composting Process

Composting with black garbage bags in the aerobic method requires oxygen. This means that those who choose this method will have to make holes in the bag so oxygen can get to where they need it. Simply make enough holes with a pen or screwdriver to allow adequate ventilation while not allowing the contents to spill.

You’ll have to check on the bag every two days or so, turning the content. Some heat may develop – this is natural and an essential part of the process. Make sure the content is mixed each time. It’s possible that after 6-8 weeks, the contents will be fully composted.

6. Vermicomposting. Let the worms do it for you.

Picture of group of worms in soil

Compost is made by feeding red worms on organic waste, such as food scraps and yard trimmings. Castings are the high-quality compost that the worms produce from this low-quality material. Worm bins are simple to build and can be purchased as well.

Approximately 800-1,000 worms (or one pound) can consume about half a pound of organic material each day when mature. Bins can be customized depending on the volume of food scraps used in the castings.

Usable castings are typically produced in three to four months. The castings can be used as potting soil because they’re made from recycled materials. Worm tea, a by-product of vermicomposting, is a high-quality liquid fertilizer for indoor plants and gardens. Worm tea can also be used to feed livestock.

The Equipment Needed

First, buy, borrow or repurpose the following items that you will need to start worm composting:

  1. Two plastic bins – one must be taller and rest inside the other, shorter bin. The shorter bottom bin does not need a top. A bin made of rubber or plastic that is approximately 15 inches deep, 25 inches wide and 5 inches high works great. The extra length allows you to scoop out the extra liquid or “worm tea” for use elsewhere (e.g., in the garden, for plants, shrubs, etc.).

The top tub should have a top to keep the worms from finding their way outside the box. It also needs to be somewhat flexible to drill holes into it. An 18-gallon tub roughly 15 inches deep, 20 inches wide, and 15 inches tall works well.

  • A drill – A drill with a one-inch diameter and a one-eighth-inch diameter drill bit is needed to drill the holes mentioned above.
  • Screening material – The type used for window screens is fine – just be sure NOT to use metal which will rust over time when exposed to the moisture in the bin. You only need about four 4-inch by 4-inch scraps of the screen. Why use screening? If you don’t cover the holes, the worms may escape.
  • Waterproof glue – Keep the screens in place, even after they get wet.
  • Shredded paper – Enough to fill your bin three inches deep and extra to add each time you feed the worms once a week. Almost any kind of paper works, but avoid heavy, shiny paper and colored paper.
  • A little bit of dirt – A pound will be enough. Just make sure it does not have harmful chemicals in it. The worms will soon produce their own dirt (compost) if all goes well.
  • A little bit of water – Some water is needed to moisten the paper and dirt to create a comfortable medium for the worms to thrive. Soak the paper and then drain it before use.
  • Worms – A pound of red wrigglers is recommended because they consume waste quickly, but earthworms also work. Red wrigglers are available online from your U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) extension office or another worm bin owner. Be careful of invasive worms, such as the Asian Jumping Worm, which can be sold as the Alabama Jumper or Georgia Jumper. Worm bins produce more worms as well as great compost.
  • A trowel – Needed to move the compost as needed in the bin.
  • Food scraps container – Use a small container with a tightly fitting top to collect vegetable and fruit scraps. Why not just put the food straight into the worm bin? Worms do best left alone, so feeding them only once a week is best. Use the food scraps container to collect scraps for a week and then feed the worms weekly.

Preparing the Bins

Below are the steps to take to prepare the bins:

  • Drill a 1-inch hole about two inches from the top of the taller bin on one side. Drill another hole on the opposite side. Drill four 1/8-inch holes near the bottom near the corners of the bin.
  • Cover each hole with vinyl screening and glue the screening with waterproof glue. Be sure the glue is completely dry before continuing to the next step.
  • Place the tall bin inside the short bin. Do NOT drill any holes in the short bin.
  • Preparing the Paper, Soil, Water Medium and Adding the Worms
  • Combine shredded paper, soil, and just enough water to dampen everything. Put the mixture into the tall bin and fill the bin about three inches deep. Add your worms to the mixture and let them get used to it for a day before feeding them. Make sure the mixture is very moist but not forming puddles of water.

Worm Farm Composting

Collect food scraps, such as vegetables and fruit scraps, bread, tea bags, coffee grounds, and cereal, in your food scrap container as you prepare and clean up after meals. Do not include animal by-products (fat, bone, dairy, meat, waste).

Also, it may take the worms longer to process woody or dry items like stems or the outer layer of onions. Worms will eat paper as long as thin or cut into small pieces, but they will not eat plastic or fabric tea bags, coffee filters, or the labels placed on produce by grocery stores.

Once a week, do the following:

  • Take the scraps to the worm bin.
  • Gently use a trowel to create a hole to put the scraps into.
  • Throw in a small handful of shredded paper.
  • Add all the food scraps on top of the paper.
  • Cover ALL of the food scraps with dirt and moist paper. Exposed food attracts fruit flies, but covered food scraps don’t. Add dirt and moist paper to the bin until the worms have made enough compost to use to cover the food scraps.
  • Notice what the worms are eating and what they are not. Remove any scraps your worms have not eaten for a while, as they may not like that type of food (e.g., some worms will not tackle a whole potato or citrus rind but may eat them if they are cut up).
  • Put the lid back on the worm bin.
  • Wash out the food scraps container for the coming week.

Maintaining the Bin

  • Once every few months, scoop the liquid out of the lower container and use it as fertilizer outside on soil near plants, or water it down to use on indoor plants. When the worm bin is full (i.e., when the compost reaches the bottom of the top holes you drilled), do the following:
  • Feed the worms on one side of the bin for a couple of weeks to draw the worms to that side.
  • Once all the worms are on one side, harvest the compost on the other side and use it in pots, in your garden, or sprinkle it across your yard. You can also scoop compost and worms onto a newspaper and sort them out, but this is a bit messier. Be sure to harvest compost at the end of the week before you feed the worms again.
  • If there are too many worms in the worm bin, share extras with friends and family or release some with the dirt in your yard.

Find out more on the EPA website

7. Poultry Pen Composting

Chickens Lay Eggs and Produce Manure.

Every 24 hours, your chicken will lay an egg, and having your home-produced fresh eggs is terrific. Every six months, an average-sized hen generates one cubic foot of manure.

Do you have any idea what you’re doing with it? Waste can’t keep building up in your coop. It stinks, attracts vermin and flies, and your chickens can’t breathe because of all the ammonia.

Manure can be a great asset to a home gardener who uses it wisely. Composting can turn “black gold” out of chicken manure, which is too strong to use directly on flowers or vegetables.

Chicken manure should only be used after thoroughly decomposing because it can damage roots and even kill plants if not composted.

Chicken manure is an excellent soil amendment because it adds organic matter, improving the soil’s ability to hold water and increasing the beneficial microbes’ population.

Chicken manure is an excellent fertilizer because it provides your plant’s nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (more than horse or bovine manure).

Chicken Manure Composting

Check out any of the links above if you’re unfamiliar with composting and want to learn how to do it. We cover composting components such as carbon (browns – your coop bedding), nitrogen (greens – chicken manure), air, moisture, volume, and temperature. Here are a few tips to get you started with composting chicken manure:

Gather the dung and the bedding material. Adding household scraps to the henhouse further enriches the mix. To provide a dry cushion for chickens and control odor and pests, chicken owners typically use bedding such as sawdust, dry leaves, or straw in their coops or runs.

The bedding from the coop can be composted along with the manure. Manure and soiled bedding are removed daily by some owners. In contrast, others prefer to add new bedding over droppings and collect it only on rare occasions.

Keeping the carbon/nitrogen ratio equal is essential. Compost is made from organic waste that microbes have broken down into a mixture of 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen. When mixing coop bedding with chicken manure, how do you get the ideal C: N ratio?

Different beddings have different C: N ratios, so the amount of manure in the bedding varies by type. Most composters use a 1:2 ratio of brown material to green material to keep things simple. However, due to the high nitrogen content of chicken manure, a 1:1 or even a 2:1 mixture may be more effective.

You can also use a recipe for “hot compost” instead. A hot pile can be made by mixing bedding and manure correctly and then adding moisture (the material should be about as wet as a well-wrung sponge). This results in a pile that is about one cubic yard in size.

A minimum of one cubic yard should be used for your bin (3x3x3 feet). We strongly advise you to use a two-bin composting system if at all possible.

The hot compost bin will operate while the curing bin is in process. You’ll also require a location to keep your gathered carbon materials. If you don’t have a 3rd bin, you can just store leaves or shavings in a dry place instead. You’ll also need a place to keep grass clippings and weeds if you want to add them to your compost bin.

For best results, allow the compost pile to warm up to 130-150 degrees Fahrenheit for three days before turning. However, temperatures over 160 degrees F can kill beneficial microorganisms and pathogens, so heating is required. Buying a compost temperature gauge from a nearby nursery can help you get the right temperature.

If you’ve been composting for three days, you’ll notice that the center of your pile will begin to cool. Reassemble the pile after it has cooled. Move the core material to the outer edges while swapping the cover material to the center. Repeat bringing the edges into the core three times for every cubic yard of material.

You should keep an eye on the pile and loosely cover it once you are satisfied that all of the contents of your bin have heated and cooled. Allow enough time to pass for the pile to cure. When most of the material is dark, crumbly, and has a sweet soil aroma, it’s ready.

By spreading it on top or gently working it into the existing soil, you can add the finished compost to your vegetable, flower garden, or flower bed.

8. Bokashi composting effective composting from the kitchen

Bokashi is a microbial mixture from the Far East known as a bokashi ‘bran.’

The origins of bokashi can be traced back to traditional Korean farming methods and Dr. Teruo Hiya’s discovery of essential microorganisms in Japan in the 1980s.

Dr. Higa developed EM (essential microorganisms) due to his research into how microorganisms aid plant growth.

Since Dr. Higa first used his blend in Japan in 1982, it has spread to 120 countries in the past 40 years.

Some excellent DIY resources are available online if you want to make your bokashi mixture.

Remember that a 2-pound supply of pre-made bokashi bran should last about three months per bokashi bucket if you buy it.

Because it uses an airtight anaerobic fermentation process, bokashi has no odor and is pest-free.

To drain the ‘tea,’ the bokashi bucket must be completely airtight and have a bottom faucet. Buy bokashi buckets and systems online, or make your own with a few simple instructions.

As the compost decomposes, it generates heat, which causes a nutrient-rich liquid to form at the bottom of the bokashi bucket. Depending on how quickly your plants and garden use it, you may want to use the tea to water them or pour it down the sink to clear out clogs in the pipes.

Bokashi composting allows you to compost foods like meat and dairy that would be difficult to compost using other methods. Also, bokashi composting is quick; a whole bin of food waste composts in just two weeks.

Additionally, the containers’ lack of odor and airtight design makes them ideal for composting in small spaces like apartments.

Getting two buckets will allow you to compost continuously. So, while the first bucket is fermenting for 14 days, you can start filling the second bucket with waste.

Take the fermented food waste out of the bin and bury it after the 14-day fermentation cycle is complete. Simply bury it under a few inches of soil to complete the task in a garden.

The best way to dispose of fermented food waste in an apartment is to fill an empty pot with soil, then plant it. The ground you’ve created is teeming with beneficial microorganisms and nutrients. Donate it to a community garden or start a kitchen herb garden instead of spreading it around.

The fermented food waste will completely decompose in 2 weeks once it is buried, so there are no smells or pest problems.

9. Mulch Composting

Mulch composting involves creating a ground cover for your soil. It is good practice to create a garden where no dirt is visible. I made this YouTube video to illustrate the value of cover crops.

There is often a debate around using leaf much and wood mulch.  I cover that topic in this article. Leaf Mulch Vs. Wood Mulch: The Difference and Why It Matters!

In the article below, I discuss creating leaf mold – a perfect surface mulch.

Suppose you want to create an organically richer mulch from wood. In that case, you can add a mixture of different-sized carbon (brown) to your compost mix with a C: N ratio of 33:1. That is 33 parts of shredded carbon material to one part of nitrogen.

In addition, add some larger pieces of bark for the mulching part of the final product. The process will consume the smaller fragments of brown and leave the bigger pieces that can be used as nutrient-rich mulch.

10. Aerated static pile Composting

For microorganisms to grow and reproduce, the organic matter must be decomposed by a diverse population of predominantly aerobic microbes. Carbon-to-nitrogen ratio management, oxygen supply, moisture content, temperature, and pH management all encourage the activity of microorganisms in compost piles.

Composting, when done correctly, speeds up natural decomposition while also generating enough heat to kill weed seeds, pathogens, and fly larvae. Thermophilic activity and curing are the two distinct phases of the composting process.

The composting process decomposes both easily degradable and decay-resistant materials like cellulose during a period of high microbial activity. Staw is an example of a material that is rich in cellulose. Hay, on the other hand, is rich in carbon.

Curing occurs after active composting, reducing microorganism activity and further decomposition of active composting by-products (nitrogen conversions). Curing compost to its final stage means it has reached stabilization and is ready for use.

During the active composting period, the compost pile experiences a wide range of temperatures. Some microorganisms cannot survive when the temperature changes, while others thrive in new conditions. A home composting system has three temperature ranges during the active composting period.

  • Psychrophilic – pre- and post-process
  • Mesophilic – degradation of material (Meso – Middle)
  • Thermophilic – temperatures higher than 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Where conversion takes place.

One pile is used for the thermophilic (hot) process in the two-pile system, while the second pile is for a curing process. If the curing process is ignored, you risk only partially converting the ammonia from nitrite ion (NO2 ) to nitrate (NO3 , a valuable form of nitrogen for plant metabolism. Plants can use ammonia and nitrate directly; nitrite is harder to absorb, so it tends not to be if the others are available.

Take a look at the multi-bin composting system I built with pallets below

11. Pathway Composting

Pathway composting is a variation of trench composting. As an anaerobic composting system, the method allows you to convert food scraps at scale.

Whether your pathway is between vegetable beds or leads to a garden shed, you can use this method to enrich your soil. Dig a furrow approximately 18-inches deep for the length of the required path. Collect scraps for your local supermarket or restaurant and include your kitchen and garden organic waste.

Fill the furrow with the scraps about a foot deep and cover with 3-inch-deep soil and 3-inch-deep coarse bark and untreated wood chips.  This is your new pathway. The ground will be cultivatable and nutrient-rich in a year when you can repeat the process in the already present furrow.

On either side of the path, you can dig similar trenches, fill them with your Bokashi fermentation, and have fertile soil within a fortnight. 

12. Continuous-Feed Composting

Most composting systems work as batch systems. A blend of carbon-rich material (brown) and nitrogen-rich material (green) is combined in alternating layers at a ratio of 33:1. The mixture then goes through the different phases of heating and cooling, turning and wetting, and ensuring enough oxygen until it is stable and fully processed.

Continuous feed systems have new material in layers at one end of the container, and the compost is collected from the other. The container is usually cylindrical in design and mechanically rotated. High-pressure air is forced into the system. Agitators help spread microorganisms as the process goes through different phases at different levels.

A continuous system would be a bin of about a cubic yard in size (3x3x3) at home. You continuously add fresh material, occasionally wet, and tip once complete. The tipped compost/new material is then covered with a tarp and left to complete the process in anaerobic conditions.

13. Polytunnel Compost

Because the aerobic composting process generates high temperatures (the reason it’s called hot composting), you could use it to heat your polytunnel. There are multiple ways to do this, but the referenced article used a unique design.

Their approach was to build six compost bins into the side of the tunnel. Using fans to aerate the compost during its thermophilic phase, hot CO2-laden air was pumped into the tunnel. Above the bins were beds that also benefitted from the compost-generated heat.

A second planting bed was situated on the other side of the tunnel. Below are the results they realized in freezing weather – temperatures are given in degrees Fahrenheit.

OutsideInside AirCompostUpper Bed (Soil)Lower Bed (Soil)

A different approach is to build a windrow composting system inside the tunnel. The heat generated is distributed passively by conduction. The heat generated can easily be observed in nature, especially in winter. While the whole landscape could be covered in snow, the compost pile will be without snow.

An added advantage is the added CO2, though this will need to be ventilated daily before sunset or the lights are turned off.

14. What is Leaf Composting?

Leaf mold is a fungal breakdown of leaves. Because it is not bacterial, it is not classified as compost. The product is an excellent soil enricher that increases moisture retention, strengthens sandy soil, and breaks up clay soil. It is also an effective mulch to prevent weed growth and help prevent rapid evaporation of essential moisture.

Alternatively, use your leaves as brown matter as part of a composting process. By adding it to a mix of greens for nitrogen and other carbon-rich matter, leaves can form part of regular compost.

In the video below, I mention using urine. I create a mix of horse manure, urine, and water to wet my six to eight-inch layer. Because urine is rich in uric acid, a rich nitrogen source – as is horse manure. You do not need to add nitrogen fertilizer, as some channels advise.

15. Cactus Composting

What is commonly called cactus compost is a mixture of growth-medium to allow above-average soil drainage.  You can read all about cactus compost in this post:

What is Cactus Compost, and How is it Made?


I continue creating content that will help gardeners simplify gardening. Gardening is a great way to relax, become self-reliant, and cooperate with nature. One of the best ways to collaborate with nature is by strengthening the soil that makes gardening possible.

I hope this information will help you in your composting efforts. If you like the content and haven’t subscribed, you can do so below.