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How to build a compost pile

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Maija Wallace - Sikana
Maija Wallace
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In this lesson, we're going to learn how to build a compost pile according to the grow bio-intensive sustainable method.

Start by gathering the plant material you need to build the pile.

We need 3 primary elements in order to have a fertile compost.

Immature (green) material

The first is immature materials that contain a high level of nitrogen, such as beans, green plants, alfalfa and immature grains.

Mature (brown) material

The second is mature materials that will bring carbon to the compost, such as quinoa, sorghum or wheat stalks.


And. finally, we need about 40 liters of soil.

If you build the compost pile on a bed, use the single digging method.

Use wooden sticks to mark the area where you're going to build the compost. This will help you keep it straight.

In order to have good decomposition, your pile should be about 1 meter, or 3 feet, in length, width and depth.

Keep an open space near the location of the pile in order to turn it when necessary. Usually this will be 2 to 3 weeks after you're finished building it.

We're now going to begin building the pile.

Arrange a 10-centimeter (4 inch) layer of large branches. This will allow the compost to drain properly.

In this example we're using willow branches.

Be sure to water the pile between each step.

This will improve the decomposition process.

Place a 10-centimeter (4 inch) high layer of mature material.

In this example we're using corn stalk we harvested last year and kept dry during the winter.

Water the compost.

Place a 10-centimeter (4 inch) high layer of green material.

We're using the same volume of mature and immature materials.

The ratio is 45% brown material, 45% green material and 10% soil.

This combination allows us to have a rich and balanced compost.

Water the compost.

Add a layer of soil

The soil regulates the compost's temperature and brings microbial life and insects as well.

Water the compost.

Make sure your pile remains square and straight.

Use a pitchfork to align the edges and give it the correct form.

Make sure that the plants don't spill over the edges of the pile.

Repeat the previous steps in the following order: a layer of brown material, a layer of green material, and a layer of soil.

Brown material

Green material


Continue to make more layers until your compost pile is finished.

Don't forget to water in between each step.

In order to get a healthy, balanced compost, it's important to use a wide variety of plant material.

In this pile we used quinoa, sorghum, corn and barley stalks.

Now it's time to add the green materials.

Here we've used fava beans, alfalfa, nettles and comfrey.

These plants contain high levels of nitrogen and minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.

They also contain properties for enhancing the microbial life and decomposition process.

You can also include kitchen scraps that are considered green material.

If you don't have enough material to finish your compost pile at once, you can continue adding to it for about two weeks after you've started it.

Always end with a layer of soil.

Your compost pile is finished!


Next video

Sikana - Nitrogen-rich materials
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