Hot composting

On PDC course in February we had also some practical activities and one of them was preparing the compost. We have learnt hot composting technique, which takes a lot shorter period to produce the compost than regular composting, also known as cold composting. I was told in Portugal it would take about 20 days to have the compost ready. It depends on the outside temperature and humidity. If the weather is dry you can water the compost to speed up the process but if it is very wet there is not much you can do.

How to make a hot compost?

You will need some manure, straw and fresh green organic matter. And you will need a lot of it. It is the same than with sheet mulching, you always need more material than it seems, so get ready.

The order in which you put layers is this:

1. Brown layer – Manure

2. Yellow layer – Straw

3.  Green layer – Fresh organic matter 

Before you start, wet well the soil. Start putting the layers in a circle with diameter of 1,5 m. Try to make a cylindrical pile, because it is much more efficient than the pyramidal one. Try to reach 1 m of height. The manure layer should a lot thinner than the other two.

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When you finish you cover the compost with plastic and only leave it for 5 days. The compost should warm up to about 55°, if it is a lot more the material will just burn and the compost volume will reduce significantly. If the compost reached 55° you turn it around. Try to put the outside part of the compost into the middle. The part from the middle, that has been breaking down rapidly, goes now to the outside. And now turn compost every two days till you reach the PERFECT dark COMPOST!

If you are really into composting, like me, have a look at these two websites. You will find all the theory and practical tips you need:

Hot compost in 18 days

No turn, self aerated hot composting method