How to Home Compost: A Compost Recipe

Uploaded by TheUniversityofMaine on 04.11.2010

Mark: My name is Mark Hutchinson, and I'm a extension educator with the University of
Maine Cooperative Extension. I work out of Knox and Lincoln County.
So, a lot of times when I'm talking to a home composter about composting, I relate it to
actually baking a cake. Knowing what ingredients that it is you need, getting them all together,
knowing how much of that ingredient you need, then actually the blending process and mixing
in the bowl is what you're actually doing by turning your piles. And then, actually
cooking the pile.
How long does it take to cook, and knowing that in your cake, and also with the compost,
you can make compost in as short as four months. But, most homeowners are more like, 18 months
or a year. They're not in a hurry to get that finished compost. And then, the last part
of it is actually letting those cookies cool, or the cake cool. That's called the curing
stage in composting. And then, the finished product at the end.
What I have here are two buckets of finished compost. This is a compost that I actually
made at my own home. So, it's been going for about 18 months, and you can see it's a nice
fine material, but it's got a lot of rough particles in it. So, what I like to do in
my home composting before I use it is actually to strain it.
What I've done is, I've actually built a screen with quarter-inch hardware cloth with just
a simple wood frame that fits over my wheelbarrow, and what I do is, I take the finished compost
and I actually pour it on the screen.
[sound of pouring]
And then, I shake the screen gently. All the fine particles come down through, and what
you're left with is all the hard particles--these are actually roots from things that have grown
in the pile--and all the bigger particles. What I do with this is, I would actually throw
it back into my compost pile and recycle it, which is a good way to inoculate the new piles
or to add those microorganisms.
What your end product is, is this nice fine material, very consistent in the particle
size, that would work really nicely in your gardens as a soil amendment.
So, this is a really great way. You're going to start with a large volume of material,
and by the end, it's going to reduce in volume by about 50 percent. So, you're not going
to get a lot of material out of that cubic yard, but you're going to get enough manure
to support your small vegetable garden or a perennial garden. But it's also a great
way, remember, to recycle your organic materials, and reduce the material going into the landfills.
[cuts off]