12 – Customizing Your Compost

Customizing Compost – Slides

Customizing Compost – Transcript

so thinking about what we’ve looked at
so far with regards to soil biological
succession and found the balance of
bacteria change as we move from the
scrubby land on the left to the
old-growth forests on the right how
would you balance the materials you put
in your compost for a compost to
different types of compost here you can
you can take a quick quiz after this but
we want something that’s high in
bacteria for around here the kind of
line of succession when we’re starting
to grow crops the other type of compost
to think about is something for an
old-growth forest here so how could you
customize the ingredients that go in
your compost to make a compost that’s a
bacterial and B fungal

5 – Compost How It Works – Intro

So, in this lesson we’ll take at the world of the very, very tiny, investigating the role of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and more.

Compost – How It Works – Slides

Compost – How It Works – Video Transcript

okay so we’re going to dive in a little
deeper into compost and how it works
looking at what compost actually is some
bacteria fungi protozoa and nematodes
arthropods earthworms a little bit about
decomposition and some activators so an
extension of our earlier definition
about what compost is you can see here
we’ve got a organic matter with carbon
and nitrogen at about a twenty five
thirty to one ratio organisms such as
bacteria fungi micro critters earthworms
another important ingredient obviously
is water and something that we really
really want especially if we’re going to
make aerated compost tea from our
compost pile is is air oxygen being able
to get in and out of the pile

14 – What Can I Do Right Now?

Right Now – Slides

Right Now – Transcript

okay so what can we do right now to get
started at home this is a photo of my
actual compost material container in my
kitchen a small container Tupperware
container a plastic box a metal box of a
small bin whatever you’ve got a small
container for food scraps keep it super
simple and the easier is the more likely
you are to do it so keep it simple
balcony or kitchen again a small compost
bin with a lid you can actually purchase
these I think online from Amazon or Ebay
probably a you know Home Depot being
Hume had where kind of stores as well
and if you have access to a balcony or
an outside area this is what lots of
people call Bokashi composting it’s not
actually composting it’s it’s fermenting
but the one of the pros of of using a
Bokashi bucket like this is that it can
take all the food waste not just
vegetable matter so you can throw fish
meat dairy skin and bones in essentially
anything that you might have from
kitchen waste can go into this bucket be
fermented for a few weeks and then you
can add it to your compost pile on your
garden afterwards this is my small
basket and in the back garden that we
use for food waste from the kitchen and
any leaves that happen to drop off the
plants around the back garden area just
within three or four weeks I started
seeing the earthworms under this it you
can tell from this is an area that’s not
really used it’s it’s just full of plant
pots and old bits of tools and old
scraps of metal the I don’t know service
technicians or something is left there
after doing maintenance work on our
blocks of apartments the soil under here
is not particularly good for growing
stuff but just after a few weeks the
soil underneath this basket area is
already having worms and all kinds of
microorganisms popping up and down
through the soil so
lots of gardeners will say the area
where they had their compost pile will
be amazing for growing stuff for some
time after moving the compost pile
elsewhere and I can already see evidence
that the soil under here is improving so

4 – Succession

Succession – Slides

Succession – Video Transcript

okay so we’ve got a clear idea of what
compost is
and a basic level understanding that
microorganisms are doing lots of the
work in our soil
and also of course in our compost so
let’s take a look at soil succession for
some insight into the kind of little
we’re aiming to create in our compost
we’ll block out some of the numbers here
to make this a little bit simpler
break it down and build it back up again
piece by piece so
we can understand it as easily as
looking at the image on the left here
moving towards the right
on the left hand side maybe over a long
long period of time grasses would grow
organic matter would build up in the
soil then small shrubs and even some
pioneer trees would take root and then
eventually moving further to the right
we would reach a climax or old growth
so this would need a time scale that
might be much longer than a human
and it would also get reset by
disturbances such as fire drought
extreme weather events cutting for
lumber clear cutting land for
etc etc then succession just picks up
wherever that disturbance happened
and whatever condition the system is in
and continues towards the right hand
side towards old growth forest
so what does that mean for us making
um i’ve unblocked some of the numbers on
the left here
at the very beginning the scrubby rocky
land you can see that we’ve got a way
number of bacteria than we have fungi
this goes for grams or micrograms
per per kilogram of soil
and it also goes for raw numbers
of bacteria and fungi and it also goes
for species of
as well so we’ll looking at all three
of those measurements we’d see that the
bacteria really outnumbers fungus
um we’ll we’ll come back to this later
as understanding this will help when it
comes to thinking about customizing your
compost output if you want to do that
and if you don’t then this is still
valuable knowledge to have under your
belt when you look at
things like big agriculture big chemical
and how we currently mass produce what
we call food so
more towards the middle now we’ve got a
more of a balance
between bacteria and fungi and this
might be
around where we’d be growing food
in your kitchen garden market garden
vegetable patch and then
on the right hand side where we reach
the climax forest species
there’s now way more fungus than
so there’s a lot more fungus working on
on the on the soil working on the leaves
and the high carbon material that trees
then there is bacteria working in that
barren scrubby soil that we saw at the
so we can think about that later when we
come to how to customize our compost and
probably make perfect sense
um and a quick soil food web takeaway
in general we’ve got soft organic
material is broken down by bacteria
woody material broken down by fungi
vegetables like a fungus to bacteria
ratio around one to one
vines and shrubs around five to one and
fruit trees
around 25 to one

9 – Decomposition

Decomposition – Slides

Decomposition – Transcript

okay so we’ve heard the word
in an earlier lesson so we’re going to
have a look at a little bit more about
decomposition now including materials
activators and carbon to nitrogen ratios
some factors that can affect the speed
of decomposition are nitrogen
carbon the size of the material in your
compost pile
aeration moisture and temperature
so carbon will generally slow
things like sawdust cardboard dried
leaves straw branches and other woody or
fibrous materials
also you might hear the phrase
carbonaceous materials
nitrogen will generally speed
moist green materials such as lawn and
grass clippings
fruit and vegetable scraps animal manure
and green leafy materials will be higher
in nitrogen
manure is also high in nitrogen it’s a
great source of microorganisms also to
seed your pile with those
microorganisms and it helps speed
and with water too much or too little
will slow decomposition so we want to
the amount of water in our pile just
things called activators activators are
the name the name says it really they
get things going
uh get things moving along quickly so
you can use blood
or blood meal preferably not your own
you could use some finished compost
which will add microorganisms and
enzymes to your pile amongst other
um soil from various areas around your
garden where things are going well
or even from an old growth forest
somewhere in your area that could have a
good balance of soil microorganisms
manure is high in nitrogen and
microorganisms that will get things
moving along and male alfalfa or
cottonseed will also help activate your
pile and get it going

8 – MicroCritters

Microorganisms – Slides

Microorganisms – Transcript

so looking at micro critters will check
out protozoa nematodes and arthropods
looking at protozoa first checking out
the soil food web diagram again we can
see that protozoa amoeba flageolets and
ciliates around the third trophic level
and protozoa feed mainly on bacteria but
also other protozoa so they can be
predatory as well soluble organic matter
and fungi and they release excess
nitrogen when eating bacteria which
plants can then use again another
another important microorganism in
making nitrogen available to the plants
looking at nematodes we can see
nematodes around the second and third
trophic levels here so we’ve got root
feeding nematodes which is the bane of
many farmers and we’ve got fungal and
bacterial feeding them atones as well so
there those are the groups and they
cycle nutrients releasing ammonium which
is NH four plus they stimulate the
growth of bacteria fungi and other
organisms and they seed microbes as they
move okay moving on to arthropods
looking at the soil food web we can see
there around the third and the fourth
trophic level so we’ve got shredders and
predators here also heard the vols and
fungal feeders but mainly they aerate
and mix the soil regulate the population
of other organisms in the soil and they
shred organic material now something
that’s not on the soil food web diagram
earthworms probably because we’re
looking at mainly micro scopic organisms
microorganisms in this area is the
mighty earthworm but definitely worth
taking a look at the earthworm and what
that can do for your compost in your
soil too so as far as we know to date
there are over 7,000 species they help
to aerate and mix the soil by help to
aggregate soil particles they eat
bacteria but shred organic material
leaving a trail of this and like the
nematodes seeding the soil with
microbes from their guts so very
important functions within the soil
physically but also I think as a
propagator as a seeder of microbial
populations as it moves up and down
through the different layers of soil or
in compost

7 – Fungi

Fungi – Slides

Fungi – Transcript

okay so let’s take a look at fungi next
again looking at the soil food web we
can see that we’ve got fungal around
here both might arisal and saprophytic
fungi again micro rise another kind of
fungi that live around the roots and
saprophytic of the kind that feed on
dropped organic matter around the second
trophic level and fungi will mainly eat
carbon but they don’t really eat they
send strand like Humphrey
directly into their food and secrete
chemicals to break the food down and the
food is absorbed directly into their
cells so if any of you have seen the
movie the fly that’s kind of what
springs to mind for me when I think of
the way that fungi feed and again a
quick example here of what funk you can
do a nice soil so they can recycle
carbon hydrogen nitrogen and phosphorus
they can make available to plants copper
zinc calcium magnesium and iron they
create structural cavities in the soil
that hold water and diverse microbial
populations they help to give source
porosity aeration water retention and
they break down organic matter at every
stage of decomposition so fairly
important thing to have in our soil some
examples here of what fungi can do by
type so saprophytic again this is a
primary decomposer eat stick sticks
twigs leaves etc the carbonaceous
material endophyte a partner with plants
so they chemically repel bacteria
insects and other fungi mycorrhizal are
neutral lists increasing the plants
ingestion of water and nutrients so
micro Raizel rhizome root area parasitic
they can cause reduced production or
death so hopefully we don’t get too many
of those in our compost pile or in our
soil and next we’ll have a look at micro

3 – The Soil FoodWeb

Soil FoodWeb – Slides

Soil FoodWeb – Transcript

okay let’s jump in and take a look at
the soil food web next now it’s hard to
talk about compost without a quick
reference to dr. laning and his work on
soil microbiology once you’ve come
across it the soil food web now when we
think about compost it’s important to
understand what we’re doing when we add
compost to our soil of course we’re
adding decomposed organic matter we’ve
already looked at some definitions for
that so we understand what compost
actually is but there’s much more going
on it’s important and quite honestly
it’s bloody amazing what’s happening
down there under the soil so a basic
understanding will give you a much
greater appreciation of how much work is
being done by millions and millions of
our tiny little friends 24/7 365 FOC
fifth charge and they never even asked
for a thank-you so don’t let this image
freak you out if it looks a bit
complicated we’ll break it down
quite simply I’ve overlaid the
right-hand side as we go through here so
that you can have a look at it column by
column so trophic levels and that’s what
this soil food web is kind of classified
into you’ll see as we as we go along
column by column and a trophic level is
just a group of organisms within an
ecosystem which occupy the same level in
a food chain so lots of us used to think
in terms of food chains or food webs but
yep and with the old in with the new
it’s much more complicated than a simple
chain so there are five main trophic
levels within a food chain each of which
is different in its relationship
nutritionally with the primary energy
source the primary energy source here
obviously is the sanam plants which
produce organic matter and something
called exudates from the roots exudates
something in something that’s exude it
or put out by the by the plant roots and
these are all photosynthesizers they get
their energy from the Sun so
we can look at this even though it’s on
a microscopic level and use the analogy
of a food chain or a food web that we
might be more familiar with so we all
know the Sun and plants when we get to
the second trophic level here we’ve got
decomposes we’ve got nematodes fungi and
bacteria so these are feeding on the
stuff that’s in the first trophic level
you might think of these like small
grazing animals like like rabbits or our
slightly larger animals like sheep or
goats and so on and those things will be
feeding on plants in a in a similar way
as a first trophic level so we’ve got
some got some terms here that might be a
bit confusing micro Raizel fungi and
saprophytic fungi that’s just basically
think that micro Raizel rhizome the
roots of the plant saprophytic I
remember this by thinking of the word
SAP and tree sap so saprophytic fungi
are feeding on the woody of stuff and
mycorrhizal are feeding on the on the
stuff around the roots and in the roots
a saprophyte more specifically is
something that feeds on dead and
decaying organic matter so they’re
actually the largest group of fungi and
they grow on dead organic matter trees
Karen Patti’s dead leaves even dead
insects and dead animals so without
these guys breaking stuff down with
their digestive activities we would just
have organic matter leaves trees
branches twigs shredded grass straw that
would just continue to build up until
the forest became a huge rubbish dump of
dead leaves and trees so these guys are
chewing away or digesting that stuff for
us looking at the third trophic level we
think arthropods which shred a lot of
organic matter
we’ve got nematodes which feed on fungus
and bacteria and we’ve got protozoa and
niebuhr flageolets and ciliates
shredders predators and grazers
of categories that we’re looking at in
this level so again maybe we’ve got some
of the maybe we’ve got rabbits or
something analogous in the first trophic
level maybe then slightly larger grazers
like sheep other herbivores in the third
trophic level and we’re starting to get
some predators in here as well so
nematodes are actually you know
attacking and eating bacteria and some
fungus fourth trophic level arthropods
are predators and nematodes are
predators so we’re looking at higher
level predators in here so maybe now
we’re looking at I don’t know pack dogs
hyenas jackals that kind of thing or
tigers leopards big cat big cat kind of
species might be what would be analogous
for the fourth trophic level and then on
up into the fifth traffic level with
higher level predators maybe humans
might be up in here if we were looking
at a macroscopic food chain kind of
thing so that gives you an overview or a
good idea of what’s happening in the
soil beneath our feet and in the next
section we’ll have a look at soil

19 – Permaculture Context

This is by no means an ‘Introduction To Permaculture’. However, compost is used so often, in so many Permaculture Designs that it is worth explaining just a little about the importance of Compost within Permaculture.

Compost is not a product of Permaculture thinking, and has been used, as we have learned, for thousands of years. Rather, Compost is a tool, or a technique – a tactic – that is often used as part of a larger plan, or strategy to, for example, restore the health of soil, encouraging useful, productive plants to thrive.

Permaculture itself, is the only Design Method I am aware of that has at its core a set of Ethics.

Ethics are at the core of Permaculture, along with Domains of Action, and a set of Principles. These guide all permaculture designs.

The following slides will hopefully illustrate to you, without needing to take a PDC, why Compost would be so popular within the context of holistic / ecological / permaculture design.

6 – Bacteria

Bacteria – Slides

Compost – How It Works – Bacteria – Video Transcript

so looking
at microorganisms many many different
species and lots and lots and lots of
them in a in a nice compost pile so the
first that we’ll have a look at is
bacteria and again looking at the soil
food web we can see that bacteria are
down here at the second trophic level
and they are mostly decomposes so they
eat carbon from dropped plant material
or root exudates they fix nitrogen from
the atmosphere making that nitrogen
available to our plants so quite a key
component of our compost and soil to
have lots of bacteria in there some of
the other things that bacteria do here
they recycle carbon or nitrogen hydrogen
or sulfur they make the nitrogen
available to the plants they can cause
disease if we end up with anaerobic
conditions specifically that can
encourage the disease-causing species of
bacteria to multiply like crazy and
bacteria also help to improve water
dynamics nutrient cycling and disease
suppression so a really key component
and we want lots of them and here we can
see various different types of bacteria
that exist in our soil and compost D
poses and mutualists is what we’re we’re
primarily interested in the decomposers
will eat the plant litter and root
exudates the mutualists will make
nitrogen available for for the plants
and you’ll sometimes see those nodules
around around the around the root area
pathogens we don’t want and we hope to
kind of persuade the hope is not to
multiply by making lots of lots of air
and oxygen available for the bacteria
that we do want to multiply lift the
troughs can eat nitrogen hydrogen or
sulfur camel or two troughs we won’t
look at those so much at the moment okay
so let’s think about bacteria having
babies here we all know that coughs and
sneezes spread diseases and you know
bacteria multiply and divide into and
kind of grow at that rate but the
numbers are quite staggering really so
these are the number of divisions across
the bottom here and that would laughs
that would happen every 20 minutes or so
so after 12 divisions you’re looking at
about four hours so after four hours of
bacteria can go in good conditions from
from just one bacteria all the way up to
4,000 uh 96 of them after just a four
hour time day time frame time period so
the previous graph I showed I showed how
there the curve the graph can go up
logarithmically or exponentially a big
curve like that say and again the
numbers are staggering after after nine
hours you could have a billion bacteria
and we hear the word billion and million
and trillion all the time especially
when it comes to global finance or the
global economy but it would take you 30
years to count to a billion we often
forget how big that number is and it
just becomes something that we hear it’s
almost becomes passe turn to hear the
word billion almost every day in the
real world but it’s very hard to imagine
more than five or six things in
short-term memory at any time right so
imagining ten things in your head is
something that most people can’t do you
could try that with ten blocks in a row
and then if you try to imagine 100 you
have to
the square ten blocks wide and ten
blocks deep and most people just can’t
even get to holding five or six things
in their head for very long so you know
the numbers are absolutely staggering
after ten or eleven hours given
favorable conditions we’d have you know
the same bacteria is the number number
of people on earth the population of
Earth and then after set after 24 hours
we were up to 4.7 to sextillion so
absolutely amazing numbers if if you
give them favorable conditions to breed
in that we we would probably never end
up with this number you’d need something
like four or five hundred thousand tons
of soil so they’d have to be spreading
and moving quite fast through that soil
but that’s okay we don’t need that many
we just need to fill up our compost pile
with you know lots and lots and lots of
millions and billions and trillions of
bacteria so now it’s easy enough for us
to do if we give them the right

Course Overview

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17 – Multimedia Resources

Multimedia Resources – Slides

Multimedia Resources – Transcript

okay so there are piles and piles of
multimedia resources for you to get your
hands on websites podcast books videos
papers and articles in the section of
the presentation I’ll just run through a
couple of them for you we’ve got the
interconnected website the soil food web
case studies with doctoring them on the
soil food web a bunch of different books
and information on carbon and nitrogen
ratios how to had to get hot water from
from your compost pile if you’d like to
do that more on the Berkeley method and
something by Keith Nicholson in his
sustainable agriculture book chapter 10
on composting that’s available through
the the echo website the USDA has got
lots of information on composting and
the soil food web dr. Elaine England’s
work and a bunch of books that I’ve read
over the last year or so in my in my
studies learning to teach permaculture
so lots and lots and lots of of
information out there if you’d if you’d
like to find it online plenty of stuff
on Wikipedia and and it’s up to you
where you’d like to expand your
knowledge after going through this
compost 101 class

16 – Practical


Practical – Transcript

Hit the forums and share your compost pile with others!

okay so you’ve got everything you need
now to head out and start practicing and
making your own compost we’ve been
through some stuff with microorganisms
that some people might think is a little
bit overboard for what you actually need
to get done with your own compost pile
but I think that that information is
quite interesting so you can obviously
give me feedback about the course and
and tell me what you think and if you’d
like to show us your setup and your
compost as you’re making it when you’re
staffing it or when it’s finished you
can go to the forums or internet
interconnected dot me or the Facebook
group for these classes and share your
experience from the beginning with other
people on the course

15 – Issues. Concerns. Problems

Problems – Slides

Problems – Transcript

okay so let’s check out some concerns
problems and issues that you might have
with your compost pile
smells temperatures whether that be too
hot too cold etc so what we’re looking
for in our compost pile is a pH level of
around six point five to seven the same
that we want in our soil to grow in food
you can check that when the compost is
finished if you like it might be
different as the as the pile matures so
pathogens we want proper aeration in our
pile to help control those pathogens
keeping a material loose you don’t want
to stand on it or jump on it to compact
it down and obviously turning it loosens
it up and helps air see if it’s way in
there so if your pile is smelly aerate
the pile by turning it it could be
because it’s too wet as well the amount
of moisture that we want in our compost
pile is if you grab a handful of it and
squeeze squeeze it and a couple of drops
of water come out that’s about right if
no drops of water come out it’s probably
too dry you want to add more water and
if you’re if you’re getting more than
just a couple of drips of water out at
the bottom of a handful when you squeeze
it it’s probably too wet so that’s an
easy way to make sure that you’ve got
the right amount of moisture in your
compost pile in terms of heat we want 55
to 65 degrees C in the center of the
pile if we’re gonna kill off weed seeds
and pathogens and especially if we’re
going to use this compost for aerated
compost tea if your pile isn’t getting
hot enough you could add some
nitrogenous materials green leafy
materials coffee grounds more manure you
might need to add some water again
checking that you have the required
moisture content you could turn the pile
more oxygen helps the microorganisms
process the things in your compost pile
more quickly or it might just be that
your pile isn’t big enough if you’re in
a cold temperate climate you might need
to add some straw or hay something to
the outside of the pile and cover it so
that it stays warmer on the inside or
you might just need to make your pile
the small basket that I have for our
kitchen scraps and leaves down in the
back garden isn’t probably ever going to
get up to 55 or 65 degrees see it’s just
not big enough to to hold the heat if
your pile is too hot you can again turn
the pile and add carbonaceous material
to it so woody twig sticks leaves those
kinds of things if the pile is too hot
and if you’ve got weed growth you can
pull them out they can suck up water and
make the pile dry you could just turn
them back in if if you want to compost
those weeds as well and your palms going
to be there for a while

13 – Case Studies


Case Studies – Transcript

okay so let’s have a look at some case
studies we’ll have a look at what you
can do at home
some communal ideas things that are done
on a large scale with composting and
what you can do right now to get started
so home cost home composting is
decentralized you can do it solo by
yourself you can use kitchen strap
kitchen scraps garden trimmings you
could make a small or a large pile it
gives direct benefits to your own soil
and what you’re growing at home and
something that I’ve noticed in the in
the subtropical tropical region where I
live is that if you remove the kitchen
scraps that would otherwise go into your
trash bin there’s a you know the bins
just don’t smell as much and you have to
empty your trash less frequently and so
that’s kind of a spin-off benefit of
separating your trash which we do more
and more with recycling around the world
now anyway but if you take out kind of
wet food waste and drop that into your
composting bin it’s not making you bin
smell in the kitchen so much so in our
case at home it it meant that we went
from emptying the trash as often as we
could ever day or two to just once a
week because the bin is just dry
basically with dry waste in it
neighborhood composting decentralized is
another idea
Erin District Council in the UK was a is
a scheme run with compost bin
manufacturers 62,000 households with
140,000 people are in their area the
Erin District Council region and this is
composting at home many of these people
were retired
there weren’t many apartments and mostly
houses so you can see by the size of
this bin it’s something that you would
probably want a back garden for to do
but they had a really high uptake when
they started this scheme three found
3,600 been sold in the first year
large-scale composting centralized on
this is an area in Barcelona where you
have separate collection pickups about
55,000 household 137 thousand people in
that area and it’s a it’s a centralized
composting system so this is picked up
by the local government and taken to a
central compost processing area the
population here is mostly urban and
rural with lots and lots of holiday and
weekend properties so slightly different
demographic to the Arin district in the
UK but they’re collecting thousands of
tonnes a year with this system so
looking at small farm composting another
book that I’ve read in the last year or
so Jen 48th market gardener he was on
about 1.5 acres and was market gardening
so he was using no pesticides herbicides
fungicides lots and lots of compost and
compost tea and other soil amendments so
you can do this certainly on a small
scale farming set up and for large scale
composting large farm composting you can
take a look at some of the case studies
at the soil food web with dr. Elaine dr.
Elaine Ingham and she’s got case studies
there of large farms for example the
largest banana farm in South Africa and
many others that combine techniques such
as composting compost tea to reduce
fertilizing use and increase yields and
increase yields and that they’re also
saving lots and lots of money obviously
and saving hundreds of thousands of
dollars when you get to a farm at that
scale using compost and compost tea
instead of you know being a big chemical
agricultural products

11 – The Berkeley Method


Berkeley Method – Transcript

so the Berkeley method hot composting the
18-day method University of Berkeley
California I think is where this came
from this involves turning the pile a
lot but the good news is if you’re a bit
lazy it just turns into the two to six
month method anyway so the equipment
that you’ll need for this is a machete
or chipper a bucket or watering can or
hose pipe to add water and space for
your pile
so very simple requirements in terms of
the equipment that we need you can do it
in a bin or a barrel or a tumbler if you
want to purchase one of those or make
one simply you can use wood or wire bins
pallets chicken wire fencing wire made
into the shape of a circle or a cylinder
and dropping your compost in there you
can use barrels drums cans pretty much
anything you’ve got to hand can be used
to make a compost pile so with the
Berkeley method here looking at the pile
size we want to be about a meter by a
meter by a meter and we want to add
about a third brain a third green and a
third manure if getting hands-on manure
is difficult then you can use one of the
other materials that we talked about in
the activators lesson or you can simply
add a half Brown half bring with a
little manure every few layers if you
only if you only have a bit from your
handy so looking at the layers in the
bottom method this will be similar for
other kinds of compost as well so we
start with a brand high carbon layer if
you’re if you’re if the area that you’re
piling your compost up in doesn’t have
good drainage then you can use the
larger sticks and twigs as the base
layer underneath your first Brown high
carbon layer and that’ll give good
drainage and better aeration after
adding your first layer of brain you had
a add a layer of wood spray a layer of
water and so everything’s good and
soaking wet then a layer of green high
nitrogen material then water it again
and then finally the third layer is
animal manure and then again water that
and you simply just
those three layers watering in between
until you’ve used all the material up
for your compost pile so thinking about
the sizes that we want in this pile you
can see here that everything’s chopped
up fairly small I wasn’t particularly
diligent when it came to measuring sizes
of things and you know there were some
some big chunks of banana banana tree
stem and some some big chunks of brown
in there and I think I even dropped a
piece a few pieces of cardboard in here
to see what would happen to those and
how quickly they would break down but
generally about five centimeters long is
it’s the largest that will want the size
of our material in this pile and that’s
just to give it more more surface area
the smaller we chop things up the more
surface area that the microorganisms in
that pile of then got to kind of feed on
attack breakdown that green and
carbonaceous material in the pile and in
turn in terms of the size of the layers
we want about five to ten centimeters of
the brain and green manure layers so a
layer five five to ten centimeters thick
water it next layer five to ten
centimeters thick water it and rinse and
repeat until the pile is finished so the
thing that makes the Berkeley method a
little bit more work than the others is
that we turn the pile first after four
days of it sitting there and then we
turn it every two days another seven
times so you’ve got four plus fourteen
days as eighteen days so the the work of
turning the pile seven times is rewarded
with compost that that is usable after
eighteen days turning the pile also adds
helps to add oxygen or make it easier
for air and oxygen to get in and out of
the pile so we’re hopefully producing
the kinds of microorganisms in that
compost that would then be really
valuable to make guaranteed compost tea
with so there are benefits to the work
of turning the pile and to be honest in
a in a in a three pile Ogden system like
this it’s much more I found it much more
difficult to turn the compost
because you can’t get

10 – Methods Of Composting

Compost Methods – Slides

Compost Methods – Transcript

okay so now is a good time to jump into
some some practical ideas I’m gonna look
at some carbon to nitrogen ratios
different methods of composting hot
composting is is one of them that will
check out the kind of equipment you’ll
need some recipes the requirements and
some pros and cons so carbon to nitrogen
ratios this is something that you can
download as a handout check the check a
handout section at the end of the course
just give you a good idea of what might
be considered a brown or a high carbon
material and what might be considered a
green or a high nitrogen material the
trouble that we’ve had getting getting
manure over here is that if we get many
Oh from from the Equestrian Center at
the road from us usually the manure is
already mixed with woodchips or wood
shavings whatever they’re using for the
bedding and the stables so you might not
be getting horse manure 18 to 1 unless
you get it directly out of their
derriere and but some other things on
here like fish and urine urine is
amazing there’s a high nitrogen material
but uh not everybody wants to deal with
that so the plenty of things that you
can do I’ve picked up 15 bags of coffee
grounds from the 7-elevens and Starbucks
locally here in Thailand and taken those
up to the mountain house to use as a as
a high nitrogen material and so lots of
options there and you should be able to
get some of that or something similar
wherever you are in the world so looking
at some different methods of composting
we’ve got the heat method which is just
pile it up and let it rot you can dig a
trench or a pit and bury things in it
you can use the free pile system also
known as the ogden system that’s
something that that we’ve got up at the
mountain house also known as lazy
composting which isn’t necessarily a bad
thing why would you want to make any
more work for yourself than you need to
so I don’t look at the word lazy here in
a negative way I look at it as
you know and just taking things easy
like and letting mother nature do the
work for you there’s the endure a
process surround that kind of did his
compost this way focusing on layers
moisture content pulse eyes and aeration
many many more different methods of
composting such as biodynamic sheet
composting leaf compost community
composting but there are lots and lots
of different ways you can try this out
so we’ve also got cold composting which
is easy to do adding garden and kitchen
waste to the pile as and when you have
it the hot or berkeley method of
composting is more work turning the pile
but does have some benefits for the work
that you put in it it helps to kill weed
seeds and pathogens so if we’re thinking
about making aerated compost tea for
example this is probably the method that
that we would use to get compost that
has very few pathogens in it and is
highly aerobic so that we’re breeding
more of the microorganisms in our
aerated compost tea that we want
vermicomposting which is worm composting
worms that have been added composting
materials you don’t need to ant in the
back of our apartment block here i use a
simple like a big basket and after a few
weeks to a month there’s already when I
pull that basket to turn it over and and
throw more stuff in it there’s already
earthworms under that basket after
several weeks of just dropping kitchen
waste and leaves in a basket essentially
so whether you do that deliberately then
and create a Vernie composting system
for worms to help break things down more
quickly is up to you but worms are
always great in the compost also uncon
positive mulch so you can just add plant
material and food waste to the surface
of the soil and again let mother nature
do the work

2 – Introducing Compost

So, in this lesson we’ll take a look at a number of topics including:

  • What Is Compost?
  • Definitions
  • A Very Brief History Of Compost
  • Why Compost?
    • An Example: Deadzones
    • Carbon Sequestration
  • The Soil FoodWeb
    • Succession
    • The Soil FoodWeb Takeaways

Introducing Compost Slides

Introducing Compost Video Transcript Text

okay so let’s make a start on
introducing compost we’ll have a look at
some definitions history the soil food
web and why we would want to compost in
the first place so I’ve got a number of
definitions here I just want to point
out the commonalities between them so
this one from the tropical permaculture
guidebook compost is broken down organic
matter and this one from the
permaculture Association UK compost is
decomposed organic matter wikipedia the
word decomposed again the market
gardener the word decomposition the art
and science of composting decomposition
and the word aerobic there
the practical handbook of compost
engineering composting is the biological
decomposition so we don’t have to
remember all those definitions just
decomposition is what people commonly
think of compost as being in various
places around the world so the
definition of decomposition itself is
the process by which organic substances
are broken down into simpler organic
matter and then when we look at organic
matter or organic material its matter
that has come from a recently living
organism so we should all be on the same
page there as to what compost is and
we’ll have a have a look here at a very
brief history of compost so way back to
ancient China and in many other cultures
around the world this is a funny passage
by Stu Campbell from let it rot his book
let it rot somewhere thousands and
thousands of years ago some hairy and
flanged cave dwellers who bore hold in
the dirt with sticks and who managed to
grow some food may have discovered that
seeds grew better near the place where
they piled the apparently useless refuse
from their cave so it’s been going on a
long long time mentioned as early as
Cato the elders piece the agree the
agriculture er 160 BC and traditionally
involved piling organic materials until
the next planting season
jump forward to 1920s Europe when it
when composting kind of got modernized a
bit and you’ve got early modern
proponents like Rudolf Steiner
biodynamic people will know him and
sorrell but Howard thinking about why we
would compost so we’ve got a definition
of what compost is it’s decomposed
organic matter we know what
decomposition is and we know what
organic matter is we know that people
have been doing it for thousands of
years what and there must be a reason
why people do this right so compost is
one technique that we can use as part of
a strategy to reduce landfill use
improve the quality of our soil water
retention reduce runoff mitigate heavy
heavy rains and flooding even
re-greening deserts and sequestering
carbon in our landscapes and you can use
this at scales from the garden to large
farms and beyond or you could just grow
great food with it in your back garden
this is a quote by Fukuoka which can
quite amusing one if we throw nature out
of the window she comes back in the door
with a pitchfork one of the many reasons
that we could we could look at why we
would want to compost here pick any of
them increasing organic matter improving
soil structure reducing landfill methane
and put fewer chemicals in our food some
people would look at it as just giving
back to the earth improves plant disease
resistance suppresses diseases by having
healthy soil and compost in the first
place less pollution to rivers and
oceans and aquatic wildlife increasing
the sustainability or resiliency of your
your local area there’s an obvious one
that’s easy to look at here dead zone so
let’s jump into that now in the picture
on the left you can see over here what
is called in many parts of the world the
red tide so this is caused by us using
lots and lots of chemical
on our agricultural land which then gets
washed off by the rain into the rivers
down the rivers into the oceans and near
the coast here is of course when it’s
most obvious to us but the process is
that oxygen levels decreases elements
such as nitrogen and phosphorus increase
algae blooms when the nitrogen and
phosphorus increase in the water when
the algae dies it’s that decomposes that
eat the algae that consume the oxygen
and then we end up with what’s called
the dead zone dead fish floating on the
surface nothing will nothing will live
in that area that’s that that we would
say is is useful for us to to eat and
certainly not in terms of a balanced
ecosystem is were used to it along our
coasts and our shorelines it’s not all
doom and gloom though if we look at this
image on the right here this is the
Black Sea dead zone previously the
largest in the world this largely
disappeared all by itself between 1991
and 2001 after fertilizers became too
costly to use that was around the time
that the USSR collapsed so those former
Soviet bloc countries went through a
quite a tough economic financial time
and the farmers simply couldn’t afford
to buy the amount of chemicals that they
were throwing on their fields before so
within a decade you’ve got a massive
massive sea that has essentially
completely recovered from the kind of
stuff that we’re dumping into it all the
time from our agricultural land down the
rivers and into the seats there’s
another another thing that was on the
list there of why we would want to
compost carbon sequestration
sequestering carbon in our landscapes
you don’t need to look too hard at these
numbers if you don’t want to but I’ll
just point out that Ratan Lao OSU says
that we could sequester about 3.5
gigatonnes per year annually of carbon
in our soil our total global annual
release is about 10 Giga tons so you can
see that we could we could
to about a third of our total global
carbon output just by improving the
quality of the soil using compost
increasing the depth of the the topsoil
is essentially when it comes down to
them cup and compost would be a key part
of doing that so let’s have a quick look
at the soil food web now don’t drill
aiming on this wagon very very brief
overview will only only do a very brief
overview on this it’s a whole class in
itself but you can get an idea here this
is kind of we would have thought of this
years ago as the food chain if we were
talking about above-ground human-sized
or macro organisms there are different
trophic levels here so the first trophic
levels are plants and so on
photosynthesizers then the second level
you’ve got other types of organisms in
the soil food web that break things down
and and shred things in the next level
and then you get some predators in the
system and then you get higher-level
predators so you could think of this as
grazing animals at out of field scale
rabbits codes whatever being eaten or
predated on by higher level or or larger
animals foxes wild pack dogs tigers
lions as you get up towards higher level
predators it’s an example of a food web
that exists beneath the soil and this is
what happens in terms of the bacteria
fungi balance so this will be important
later when we’re thinking about what
type of compost we want to output again
you don’t need to focus too much on the
numbers down here but on the Left we
start with barons scrubland
move through to vegetables and shrubs
that we would grow for food and then all
the way on the right we’ve got
old-growth forests here the important
thing to notice is just have a look at
the balance of numbers there so when
you’ve got barren rocky scrubland here
‘we were all bacteria not way more
it’s all back to here and hardly any
fungus no fungus when they test when you
get over to the old-growth forest here
there is more bacteria than you started
with in this scrubby rocky land over
here but there’s way way way more fungus
so old-growth forests have way more
fungus in the soil than bacteria a much
much higher ratio of fungus in there in
the soil than bacteria back down here
where we’re growing things maybe that’s
more of a balance of kind of thing
between bacteria and fungus here so 600
– 600 micrograms around so it changes
and evolves over the time and this is
essentially what we’re trying to do by
improving the quality of our soil moving
from stuff that will only grow weeds and
and rampant grasses to things that will
grow food and be productive agricultural
land for us and eventually what happens
is is the forest does its own things and
just drops a leaflet a year after year
and creates creates really rich soil so
the soil food web takeaway in general
soft organic matter is broken down by
bacteria harder woody material is broken
down by fungi vegetables so the kind of
things that we like to grow would have a
fungus to bacteria ratio around one to
one ish vines and shrubs again we might
be interested in bees for food fungus to
bacteria ratio of around five to one and
fruit trees like a fungus to bacteria
ratio about 25 to one so the last three
slides are kind of setting you up so
that when you go through compost when we
go through the main compost how it works
or in introducing the the things that we
need to know about compost in our
compost pile you can think back to this
and think alright I can tweak my compost
palter to produce different compost for
different situations in my garden farm

1 – Course Introduction

In each Lesson, you will be able to watch a video of the Class presentation, or see the slides with no audio, or the text transcript, grouped under Topics.

Whichever way you like to access the Lesson content, you can always ‘Mark Complete’ e.g. the Slides, and Transcript, if you have already viewed the Video presentation.


Who This Course Is For – Baseline

To start this course, you need know nothing about Compost to begin with, we’ll move through the key things you need to know to make great Compost . At the end of the course, you will be able to make your own Compost, including customizing your Compost output for specific types of plants and, as the key ingredient for Compost Tea.

Current State

In the US alone, 150,000 tons per day of food waste go to landfill
Food, is 22% of all garbage that ends up in landfill sites
That’s more than 54 Million tons annually
This doesn’t include everything – garden trimmings, lawn cuttings etc.

Future State

Imagine if we could use all the food waste in the USA to make compost – that’s 54 Million tons to make compost with, every year…
Less waste in landfill or incineration, less methane released…
Less fertilizer, pesticide, herbicide, fungicide usage.
Better soil = better water retention & reduction in flash floods….reduced irrigation costs…
There are many, many benefits to composting

Navigating The Course

Your login details will have been emailed to you. You can login/logout using the menu button at the top right of the page.

To start your course, login, and go to the Course page. Click the first lesson in the course to begin, or the Resume button to pick up where you left off.

Once you have started your Course, at the top of your screen, and also at the bottom of each Lesson, will be either a Quiz to complete, or a ‘Next Lesson’, or ‘Complete’ link.

You can move on to the next Lesson, when you have completed the current lesson / topic, and any quiz for these.

You can also use the Course navigation menu, on the left of your screen (show/hide this by clicking the arrow at the top left of your screen)

When you are in your Course, the main navigation menus for the InterConnected website are hidden, so you can focus. Returning to the main Course page by clicking the link at top left, or the InterConnected icon to return to the main website, will show the main navigation menus again.

Items Required

Items you might want:

  • Access to a computer & the internet!
  • A notepad & pen, or whatever you like to take notes with

Of course, it looks like you have access to the internet & a computer if you are taking this course.

Making your own notes, is a very effective technique for learning new material, so make sure you have a way of making notes as we move through each lesson.

Course Format

This Class will have several formats for you to use as you prefer / depending on your learning style:

  • Lessons: each Lesson will have some or all of the following:-
    • A video presentation(s) which you can view, pause, rewind & review as and when you would like.
    • Presentation Slides.
    • The video text transcript.
  • Short Quizzes are usually at the end of a Lesson.
  • The Downloadable / Printable materials & Handouts can be accessed throughout the course.
  • A list of references and multimedia resources with links are also included.


While the Course content is mobile-ready and can be viewed on Desktop (PC/Mac), Tablets, Laptops/Notebooks, and Mobiles, it may be difficult to view all the information contained on a detailed video or slide if you are viewing this on a smaller screen such as a phone.

If you are trying to thoroughly learn a subject, a larger screen will be more beneficial, both in terms of seeing the content more clearly, and having hands free in order to take notes.


Badges available for this Course are :-


Your Certificate will be issued for you to download & save on completion of the course. Check the main Course page for notification if you don’t see this immediately at the end of your Course.

Video Transcript Text

okay so we’ve seen the overview for the
course so far let’s dive in and have a
look at the introduction so for the
compost black/gold
introduction to compost class this is
the kind of baseline that we’re starting
with here so you don’t need to know
anything about compost to start the
course we’ll introduce all the concepts
and move through the key things you need
to know about compost and at the end of
the course you’ll be able to make your
own compost and that includes
customizing your compost output for
specific types of plants and ensuring
that you have good compost as the key
ingredient for compost tea if you’re
going to go on and experiment with that
at any point in the future things that
you might need you’ve obviously got
access to a computer on the internet
because you’re watching this a no-parent
pen whatever it is that you like to take
notes with is also useful and this is
the an idea of the current state that
we’re at at the moment so we’ve got in
the US alone 150,000 tons of food per
day down to landfill that’s 22 percent
of all garbage that ends up in landfill
sites in the US and it’s more than 54
million tons annually I can’t even
imagine what that looks like it’s a lot
of food waste so it doesn’t include
everything garden trimmings lawn
cuttings etc etc there’s there’s other
stuff that could be used for composting
as well that’s the current state looking
at the future what it could be like if
we made a few changes we’d have 54
million tons of food waste obviously to
to make some compost with be a lot less
waste in landfill in serration less
methane released from landfill sites we
might be using a lot less fertilizer
pesticides herbicides fungicides we
would have better soil which would mean
better water retention reduction in in
the effects of things like flash floods
and heavy rain
reduced arrogation costs because the
soil structure is improved and is
holding holding water much better the
just many many benefits to composting
those are just a few off the top of my
head so this is what we’ll dive into in
the next session we’ll be looking at
what compost is the details about
compost what what’s in the pile what
makes it up what’s it made off some
methods how to do it and some practical
tips on doing it and then at the end
you’ve got a pile of multimedia
resources to go through websites books
podcasts videos papers articles that
kind of thing so let’s get started