Simple Composter in a Hole

Here we have a very simple design for a large composter. We had a group working on this for about half a day and we managed to finish it comfortably. You can see the full system in the photo below, so I will just make some comments about the design, and how to use it.

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How to make it…

First you need to dig your hole. Make it as big as you think you will need. As a note, food waste takes about 3 months to break down in to compost so you should have three months worth of space, at least, in your hole.

You can see at the bottom of the hole there are wooden boards. These are rasied off the floor slightly by more wood. A pallet would be perfect in this situation but is not necessary. The boards at the bottom are essential to allow water to drain out of the bottom of your composter so leave spaces between each plank. If your food waste is sitting at the bottom of the composter getting wet, it will not compost properly, and will begin to smell very bad.

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The next bit of woodowork you need to do is for the lid. So this one will be slightly bigger than the hole on all sides, and will have no gaps between the planks. We also dug a shallow drainage ditch around the top of the composter and filled it with gravel to redirect any rain coming down the hill around the hole rather than in to it.

So how to use the composter…

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First of all, throw in your food waste. There are many guides and ideas about what food waste you should and shouldnt put in your compost. Some people say absolutely no citrics, some say in moderation, some people put all their citric waste in their compost. The one to avoid which seems unanimous is meat. And a lot of people do not put cooked food in the composter either.

Next you want to add some dry, finely chopped grass or other dry material to try to reduce the smell of the compost and balance out the nutrient levels.

And that is all there is to it. A good compost should not be too wet or too dry. It should be a lovely deep black colour and have a good earthy smell. If your compost is like a thick lump of wet sludge then you have too much water, maybe not enough air, maybe too much of one type of food that is not beneficial. If you compost is too dry then maybe you need to add more food stuffs. The information is out there with regards to quantities and proportions but really it is simple.

We started with a pile of food on the ground which we covered with dry grass. At night we covered the pile with a tarp and we kept the rain off it at all times, and gave it air and sun when possible, we also turned it every week or so. Without any research we had the beginnings of good compost within a few months. Just keep an eye on your compost pile and keep researching if things are getting smelly.

I wil post soon on how to make a basic device that will dry out your food waste in a couple of weeks so you only need to put dry items in to your compost

As usual, any questions, put them at the bottom here

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