What is a compost heap?
A compost heap is a mound of decaying organic matter used by gardeners to re-cycle garden waste into a free organic soil improver and plant feed. A compost heap may be a simple pile in the open but may also be enclosed in a brick or wooden structure to keep the heap tidy and to help conserve heat which helps in the composting process.
Smaller plastic static or rotating compost bins can be used urban gardens where insufficient waste is produced to fill a large compost bin.
To build a compost heap add a mix of organic matter consisting of green material rich in nitrogen and brown material rich in carbon. The mix is approx 50/50 and is important as too much green material results in a soggy and often smelly heap while too much brown material remains dry and will take a very long time to break down.
Heap style compost bins,whether enclosed in timber, brick or block may take a long time to break down unless efforts are made to conserve heat in the pile. Adding an insulating material like old carpet can help retain heat and speed up decomposition. The advantage of a hot compost pile over a cool one is the temperatures (up to 75 degrees C) will kill off any weed seeds or pathogens which would otherwise be spread on you garden.
The fastest and most effective compost system for kitchen waste is an insulated tumbler type bin which can compost very quickly. Insulated tumblers like the have a number of advantages over traditional systems including the ability to deal with cooked food (including meat and fish) and to create an even heat through the pile. The compost drum is rotated after fresh material is added which mixes the compost and adds air to the material. The insulated steel hopper is rodent proof and easily reaches the high temperatures for quick composting and a weed and pathogen free compost.