Q & A

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​Hey Andrew!

Sounds like you’ve got a pretty big project on your hands! Is all the waste compostable material? ​Things like meat, milk, bones, grease, cheese, oil and fat must avoid the compost pile, or you risk contamination and attracting unwanted scavengers. It sounds like you’ve got lots of nitrogen-heavy additions ready for your pile, what about carbon additions? For a healthy heap, a C:N ratio of 25-30:1 must be met. Any more or less and the pile will slow down or stop decomposition completely. Dried leaves, straw, even paper make great carbon additions to balance out the nitrogen from the veggies. This may be your biggest hurdle to jump, working with your school recycling program or a local farm may create a beneficial relationship for both parties.
The composting process may slow down a little in the winter, however, a healthy microbial culture in your pile will help to keep it up to temperature. I would suggest bins for collection, and a large concrete surface to house anywhere from 1-4 piles, depending on how big of a project you’d like to turn this into. It might be best to start smaller, while leaving space to grow the program. Collecting food waste and transporting it is gonna be the most labor intensive part, creating the pile and turning it is easy if you have access to a skidsteer. The compost you are creating is not a growing medium that can be planted directly into. It is more of a soil amendment, used to add organic matter and healthy microbes to your already existing soil.
One pile will take anywhere from 6 months – 1 year to decompose into a usable product. Keep this in mind when planning your pile layout. How much compost is produced depends on how much input you have. 45-90 gallons is quite a variable range, I would suggest looking at monthly averages rather than daily. It might give you a better idea of how much carbon will have to be procured in order to achieve a proper ratio for decomposition.

Hope this helps! 🙂