Layering the compost heap
Since publishing photos of our community compost bins on the allotment I have had several queries about the need to layer the organic material as it is added.
Many sources of advice on allotment composting using a traditional heap or bins made of pallets suggest that the heap should be built using successive layers of Greens and Browns each layer being approximately six inches thick and well-watered as the heap is constructed . Some sources will also suggest the addition of layers of ammonium sulphate (2 ounces per sq. yard) or manure.
I use such a layering system when making a heap using the pallet bins on the Composting Demonstration site at Stokes Wood allotment as a simple way of getting the correct Green / Brown ratio. If enough material has been gathered on the allotment to fill the bin in one go or even in two or three weekly batches are required, this is a relatively effective way to build a hot heap. It also means that when used in a bank of three of four bins the material mixes well as it is forked from one bin to another.
If the material is not going to be turned to aerate the contents regularly over the first few weeks but just left to decompose over a 3-6-month period, it provides a satisfactory method of distributing the greens and browns within the heap.
At home or when using a conical plastic bin on the allotment layering is not practical and material is can be added as and when the kitchen caddy is full. The caddy once emptied can be used as a measure for the addition of browns (cardboard, egg boxes or shredded paper) or bulking agent if cooked food is being composted. Aeration can be achieved using a fork or a compost aeration tool.
Please visit us at Stokes Wood Allotments 2B Stokes Drive, Leicester on a Wednesday morning or by appointment.