In our last episode, we discovered a treasure that the soil needs to keep producing our food. It goes without saying that without it the soil will certainly get tired of feeding our food crops with the needed nutrients. Have you discovered what the treasure means? If you have not deciphered the golden treasure. Follow this click to hunt for it.

For week 11 we are exploring the process of compost making.
To flash back to episode 10, we defined the process of making compost as composting. Composting involves the decomposition and recombination of organic materials.

There are three types of organic materials needed for composting namely:
1. Soil
2. Vegetation (dry and green vegetation)
3. Manure (if available, though not compulsory).


First off, soil contains a good number of micro-organisms necessary for starting up the process of composting. A tablespoon of soil contains billions of microorganisms. Soil also helps to keep flies and odour away from the compost pile. Due to its water retention ability, the soil allows compost to hold water for the pile to decompose slowly

Dry Vegetation

Dry vegetation that can be used for composting includes: dry grasses, weeds, leaves, straw, hay, dry compost crops such as corn, millets, rice, sorghum, sunflower and so on. Vegetation supplies organic carbon as a source of energy.

 Green vegetation

These are freshly cut green grasses, weeds and kitchen wastes (without any form oil and no meat products) that supply nitrogen into the compost pile. Nitrogen enables the microorganisms to develop their body which is important for digesting the carbon energy source. Compost piles can be built in a pit, ground or path above the ground level. The latter is much better because during the raining season, the pit can be filled up with water. It can also be made in different containers. However, the container should be built in a shady place, that is, under a tree and 6-feets away from the trunk of the tree. Examples of usable containers for compost making are shown slow. Kindly note that the minimum compost bag size should be 3feets by 3feets by 3feets. This helps to institute the heat required for the composting process.

The compost pile should not be too high from the height of those who will turn it for convenience and also to prevent standing on it to aid their height. A compost pile will cure to 1/3 or I/4 of its original size when fully ready, this information should give you an idea of the quantity or number of pans ideal for your available space.


How to build a compost pile on the ground.

To build a compost pile on the ground, the first step is to measure the area to be used and remove all weeds around the location. Secondly, loosen the ground to a depth of 12 inches with the help of a digging fork in order to provide good drainage. The third step is to lay down tree prunings about 3 inches thick for air circulation and to provide demarcation for the actual top soil in that area. Use equal volume of dry vegetation and green vegetation combined with 20-25% good soil. After laying down the tree prunings, water the area to move the microorganisms to the top surface for proper decomposition process. Lay the dry vegetation first (1-2 inches) and water it evenly, then place the green vegetation (1-2inches) over it (the dry vegetation) and water to mix. If you have animal droppings from chicken, cattle, horse, and rabbit, then add 1-2 inches of the dung and water it. On the other hand, if you do not have one, don’t bother. Your compost will still be good.

Fourthly, add up soil that is enough to cover the surface but do not apply water because watering will make the soil to sink.

Lastly, start a new layer in this format until you get to your desired height. Meanwhile, another essential material you can add to your pile is grinded charcoal. This helps to reduce the acidity of the soil while aiding the absorption of nutrients in the soil.


Things to note:

  • Mature vegetations are high in carbon content meaning that the microbes in the compost pile will have carbon to digest without sufficient amounts of nitrogen which comes from green vegetation.
  • Avoid adding meat or oily materials to your compost pile.
  • When too much water is added to the compost, it drowns the aerobic microbial life while too little water also reduces the biological activity needed to take place.
  • During the wet season, cover the pile to prevent water logging and the anaerobic decomposition that accompanies it.
  • Keep the pile moist by watering daily or every other day depending on the weather.
  • Make sure the top or last layer of the pile is soil, turn the pile if you want a quick compost every 7-10 days or a slower finish compost every 2 weeks.
  • Let the pile decompose 1-3 months depending on your turning process.
  • A compost pile is ripe when most of the original ingredients are unrecognisable, not fresh or weedy, the material turns black or dark brown, soft and crumbly.
  • If you are not ready to use the compost, ensure it is well dried before bagging it.
  • Endeavour to use different dry and green materials to build the compost pile. Each material has different nutrient composition which means that at the end, you will have a high-quality finished compost
  • Let there be enough air in the pile and keep it moist always.

Furthermore, to make compost in a drum or bucket, create holes at the bottom of the drum or bucket to allow excess water to drain out. Then, elevate the container above ground level by placing on a stone or brick. Ensure that the bottom area is not totally covered to allow soil to completely fill up the container.

Place gravel stones, 1-2 inches, depending on the size of the container into the container and add dry leaves and vegetation first. Sprinkle water followed by green vegetation and food waste without oil, meat and less bones. Water evenly, add soil or if you have animal droppings, add prior to adding soil, continue to build in this pattern until the container is full.

Ensure that you do not exceed one month to stop adding new materials. If you are making compost in the house, ensure you chop the materials into smaller particles to make it easy to turn. Always make sure that each time you add kitchen waste, you top it with soil to avoid flies and unpalatable odour. Also ensure the container is always covered.

Other materials to be avoided in a compost pile are:

  1. Diseased plant or insect infested ones.
  2. Poisonous plants
  3. Plants that are toxic to other plants and microbial life.
  4. Plants that may be too acidic
  5. Plants that may not be killed in the heat of the decomposition process and can sprout when the compost is used in the field.

Importance of Compost

  • Helps to improve the soil structure.
  • Improves moisture retention ability of the soil.
  • Makes the soil well aerated
  • Controls soil pH level
  • Makes nutrients readily available to the plants.

Keep a date for next episode. Thank you.

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