How to make compost in the Mediterranean Summer

Since moving to the Mediterranean over three years ago I have struggled somewhat with making compost. The issues I find are that in the summer the air is so dry and hot that piles quickly dry out meaning they stop composting…

There is no rain during the hot months so all water needs to come from wells which are somewhat stressed at this point..Then during winter composting slows down to a minimum when days are around 10C and nights at or below zero.

So to try and compost quickly I made a pile that I would deem to be under ideal conditions, with as little effort as possible.

STEP 1 – Find your carbon element. For our carbon this time I bought small bales of straw from a local ag supplies store. Using commercially available wheat straw from conventional farms I found the composting incredibly slow, and some parts didnt compost at all. I am going to assume that is because of the biocides sprayed onto crops like wheat, lingering and not allowing bacteria to start working during the composting process. So look for straw from your local farmer, that you know hasnt been sprayed – itll benefit the composting process as well as your plants afterwards.

2. Soak your carbon. Using a hose can potentially waste a lot of water as it runs through the bale and onto the ground. Not only this but it takes a long time to soak a whole bale fully. This time I put the bales in our small pond overnight and the next morning they weighed about 50kg and were fully wet. It worked perfectly and used only a few minutes of my time, it also wasted no water…

3. Collect your nitrogen element. In this case I used bagged horse manure as it contained far less heavy metals in comparison to the bagged chicken shit, which is stronger, but smellier. I used one 30kg bag of shit to one 20kg (dry) bale. Having soaked the bales and seen how heavy they become I feel to reach a good 50:50 ratio I could have used 2 bags to one bale but this would have increased the cost somewhat…

4. Assuming your nitrogen element has a good level of humidity already, mix the two in layers (lasagna style) and cover with plastic. White plastic is best in summer to keep the pile from overheating but I only had a small piece of black plastic and a large piece of shade netting so that had to do. I weighed them down with plastic bags filled with sand and job done.

I am happy to wait for this one to compost over the next few months so I will probably jsut turn once after a couple of months. To make the compost in 30 days I could turn every 2-3 days but for this size pile I just dont think it is worth the heavy lifting. I will check humidity levels every few weeks and add water if necessary, otherwise its just a waiting game..

As a side note for anyone local – I bought 5 small bales at 4.50euros (22.50) and 5 bagas of shit at 5 euros each so the total was 27.50.

The pile looks as though it should compost down to just over a cubic metre, meaning that a m3 of finished compost costs around 45 euros when made at home in this way…

Voila

Oh and if you got to the end of this and are thinking what the hell is different from normal compost making? Then the simple answer is – heavily soaking your carbon part in advance, and using white plastic to cover if possible.

Bobs your uncle

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