Home The Ideal Compost Pile
proper compost binAn "ideal compost pile" does not and cannot exist anywhere for two reasons: 1) oxygen and 2) gravity. On earth, oxygen is a plus but gravity is a minus. In outer space zero gravity is a plus (not quite ideal though as you will learn below) but zero oxygen is a minus. Nonetheless, understanding the abstraction of an ideal pile is a helpful exercise, and below is a list of conditions. Let's pretend that somewhere, we will call it Compostopia, there is an oxygen-rich, low-gravity environment, in which we can build our fictitious compost pile.

C1: All of the different ingredients are uniformly distributed...there are no distinct "layers." This condition, for practical purposes, is achievable. A common [incorrect] conventional teaching is that the pile should be built in layers...see for example "link to reference site that shows picture of layers." Someone advised that one time and the Invisible Force assures that it gets repeated. I have come across a resource or two that correctly advises mixing ingredients before making a pile and hope to cite them one day.

C2: All surfaces of all materials are moist. This condition is achievable using The Ideal Watering System. In most compost piles the top and sides immediately begin to deviate from this condition; its prevention will be discussed when we visit the Ideal Compost Bin.

C3: All compost particles are separated from each other by a thin layer of air. This condition is of course not achievable because of gravity. The bottom of the pile immediately begins to deviate from this condition and gets worse over time and as pile height increases.

C4: Density is uniform throughout the pile. This condition probably needs to be combined with C3....

C5: The pile is contained by an insulating material that retains heat and moisture but allows the pile to breathe.

C6: The shape of the pile allows for maximum breathing. This may be the most important condition that we can consider, as it guides us to the best shape for a compost container. When I first imagined the Ideal Compost Pile, the shape that appeared in my mind was a sphere. However, upon writing C5, I realized that the ideal shape is a cylinder, because that is the shape that would allow the most uniform flow of oxygen into the pile as biochemical reactions occur that create warm gases that exit the pile.


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