Is it better to let compost breathe or for it to be enclosed?


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My assumption is that keeping it in a dark, damp environment will promote it's decay, but is this true? Or is it better to spread it where you want the compost to be and let it naturally decay there? I have heard different stories about this so thought it best to take it to the experts!
 
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My assumption is that keeping it in a dark, damp environment will promote it's decay, but is this true? Or is it better to spread it where you want the compost to be and let it naturally decay there? I have heard different stories about this so thought it best to take it to the experts!
When you spread out organic material and just let it sit there it does not compost per se. It slowly rots. When you put the same organic material into an enclosed environment or just into a pile and keep it moist the decomposition or rotting process changes. Heat is generated. Microbial life thrives such as bacteria and fungi which fairly quickly turns the organic matter into compost which is full of nutrients. If left out on the bare ground it will still rot but the UV light does not enhance microbial life it does the opposite.
 
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That makes sense... Thanks for the easily understood explanation! I guess I'll just have to keep the large compost bin I keep out back, as unsightly as it may be if I want my plants to still get the nutrients they need to thrive from my household compost!
 
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I have done it both ways. Either way it will rot: a compost pile is FASTER, is all, because the moisture can be kept at an optimum level!
 
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Could I get some clarification on this topic in regards to compost bins? Looking at the subject line, I was actually hoping for an answer to how much ventilation you should have. When building a DIY barrel composter, I've seen designs with and without ventilation holes, and every variation from just a few vents on the side to the entire barrel being riddled with holes. So for zone 5a, in an area that is fairly shaded, what would you suggest? And are there any general rules I should know as a guide to the amount of ventilation?
 
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Could I get some clarification on this topic in regards to compost bins? Looking at the subject line, I was actually hoping for an answer to how much ventilation you should have. When building a DIY barrel composter, I've seen designs with and without ventilation holes, and every variation from just a few vents on the side to the entire barrel being riddled with holes. So for zone 5a, in an area that is fairly shaded, what would you suggest? And are there any general rules I should know as a guide to the amount of ventilation?
I do not believe that there are any set rules as to ventilation but I would say that it would be better to have unlimited air than not to have enough air. A compost pile is in the open with unlimited air but still needs to be turned periodically for optimum performance. With a barrel composter, which is turned over much more often than a compost pile, it would stand to reason that nominal ventilation would suffice. The entire reason for ventilation in a barrel composter is to prevent the contents from going anerobic and a few square inches at both ends will allow for proper air circulation which will eliminate that potential problem. I see no reason to punch holes all over it.
 
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OK that makes sense... so as long as the material is breaking down, it's probably getting enough air. I was given a 55gal barrel with a screw-top lid, so I'm thinking of building the cement-mixer style composter and replace the solid lid with some wire screen. I'm hoping it's as easy as screwing in a couple of 2x2s as paddles, and making a frame to set the barrel on so I can roll it.
 
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There are a few discussions on the site about composting already. What to compost, how to do it, in what manner might work best for you etc. Look through those threads and then you'll be able to decide what method best suits your needs.
 

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