Compost Guide P5

Garden compost – Five Steps To Making Really Useful Functional Compost

We here at Kentcare want to tell you how to make the best garden compost heap so that it will smell nice and sweet and do wonders for your garden or business premises- well, maybe not “smell” exactly “nice” but you will get our meaning!

Step Five: The Science Bit – hopefully still taught as school level biology

It would only be fair to ask at this stage how the blazes does a bit of water, air and compost accelerator turn a mass of garden waste into a useful, perhaps even indispensable, garden product.

The answer is simple and yet at the same time fiendishly complicated.

I will attempt the former explanation.

Simply put, it is bacterial activity which does the magic.

If you give the little devils the correct living conditions then they will work their magic.

A word of caution here though, there are basically two kinds of bacteria, aerobic and anaerobic.

This merely means some need air (the aerobic ones) to thrive and others (anaerobic) can manage quite well with little or none.

For reasons which will become obvious, the ones we want are the aerobic ones.

The anaerobic kind live at the bottoms of ponds, sewers and other wet grimy places and give off a fearful smell as they do their nefarious work.

If your compost is too cold and wet, this is the kind you will encourage.


Aerobic bacteria on the other hand are creatures of light and air and enjoy a little warmth; correctly made compost heaps are packed with them.

And how you may ask do we encourage these allies?

By varying the texture of the material we provide for them, in order that air may circulate (and turning the heap to re-invigorate them when the first flush of activity has passed).

By providing just enough moisture to allow them to work without washing them away or drowning them and finally by adding a little something extra to help them to thrive and survive.

The life cycle of the compost heap then goes something like this: as you are building the heap and throwing in lots of good green material you will notice it getting very hot, steaming would be good.

This is the first phase of activity as the bacteria go to work being fed mostly by the nitrogen in the material.

When the heap cools, it is because these bacteria have used up all the available food, air and moisture and are having a little post lunch nap.

It is very important to know that at this stage things can go wrong as the heap can become anaerobic, but here you come with your fork to turn the pile and restore it to an aerobic condition.

This flush of air and the accelerator you have added will wake up our bacteria, and get them working for you again. The next phase of composting will then start, which will not necessarily be as hot as the first but will still produce plenty of heat.

When all finally goes cold, you will be able to break open the compost, then you feed it to your hungry garden, leaving some to add to the next generation of the compost to start the whole thing all over again.



I am sure there are those who will take issue with what I have written, but thanks for the attention nonetheless.

To them I say good luck, and feel free to respond to this.

Kentcare try to recycle as much of our waste as we possibly can.