‘Good Compost For Horticulture’

Jim Cronin

  • Proper ratio of ingredients – 50% brown : 50% green.
  • The stack or windrow is ideally 1.5 metres high x 1 metre wide and as long as required.  The longer the better.
  • 10% of the stack is soil as an inoculator.
  • The gardener starts with a brown layer well fluffed up of 30 cm depth.
  • After this the material can be layered or pre mixed on a slab.  The important consideration is that the brown / green ratio is observed.
  • It is crucial that the following happens with temperature:
    • Slow climb in temperature taking 5-7 days.
    • The temperature rises to 63 degrees Celsius and stabilises, that it remains constant for six or seven days.
    • A gradual decline happens after six days and the temperature settles to the ambient temperature for the time of the year.
    • Temperature of the heap is stable and no further sudden rises in temp occurs.


  • Excess moisture (rain).
  • Smearing the ingredients with a tractor loader bucket or similar.
  • Compaction and anaerobic spots.

Good compost is one of the keys to a weed-free garden.  Our potatoes are weed-free at Garraunboy , Killaloe, Co Clare. They received no hand weeding and made a nice crop .

SEE PHOTOS: Poor & good quality compost produces these results.  1st photo is uncomposted.  2nd is composted.



  • Compost heaps are ideally placed in a sunny position.
  • If you can place the heap on soil or sod as opposed to concrete or tarmacadam.
  • The ration of ingredients is very important, so 50% brown, 50%green.
  • Brown material is an ingredient that is slow to rot and goes earth like / forest floor like if left in a bag eg straw, cardboard, soil, dry rushes etc
  • Green ingredients are quick to rot and go smelly and gunky if you leave them in a plastic bag eg household compost material such as tea bags,  coffee grains ,citrus , vegetable peelings.
  • So you start with a brown layer, say a generous amount of straw 25 cm.  Well fluffed up with lots of air.
  • Next a green layer of say 10 cm – thin is best. NB Spread the ingredients over the entire surface area.
  • Follow with a brown layer of equal thickness 10 cm.  Remember well spread out with plenty of air.
  • On you go …filling away ….the quicker that you fill the better .
  • Finish with a brown layer and a hat shape.  Cover with a tarp or a metal roof.

For more info and details on temperature, turning etc my composting course is available online from NOTS website.

Listen to a short podcast with Jim Cronin about composting here:

About Jim Cronin

Jim Cronin has a 16-acres organic market garden farm in Co.Clare where he has been adopting biological agriculture principles for the last 30 years without loosing many of the traditional methods of farming. Jim’s entire farming ethos is seamlessly entwined with nature conservation. Not only does he create a habitat for pollinators and wildlife but also for all the unseen worms and micro-organisms which are fundamental to growing crops and sustaining life above ground. Jim has both a small suckler herd and 2 working horses that both help work the land and provide essential manure for soil fertility. Jim is both a teacher and a commercial grower of fruit and vegetables. Jim both combines the old traditions with new knowledge and methods based on sound principals as well as proves that one can make a good commercial yield from a small area without compromising nature. “Listen to your heart, yes you have to make money, but every farmer I know is a custodian of the land and intrinsically knows what is best for nature”.  He has distilled his farm knowledge down to an exact science and created a bank of wisdom.  Everything Jim does is a deliberate move to try to harness the resources that nature already offers us in terms of soil health, pest control and crop growth.  Most importantly there is the unquestioning fact that he loves what he does and what he does is a truly beautiful way of farming for nature. More information and a short film on Jim’s farm here.  Ambassador since 2020 

‘How to build a compost cage’

Thomas O’Connor

See HERE the document Thomas put together for us with photos on how to build a compost cage for attracting worms.

About Thomas O’Connor

Thomas and Claire manage a 25-acre mixed organic farm in Gleann na Gealt, Camp, Co. Kerry. They produce vegetables, salads, wheatgrass, meat, poultry and eggs which they sell locally in their shop in Tralee (Manna Organic Store). They have 15-acres of native Irish woodland and 4-acres of permaculture including fruit trees.  They are a great example of diverse food production and biodiversity production all on very marginal land, of proving what is possible.  “Climate change is caused by the disconnection with the land and we need to produce farming systems that are less energy intensive”   More information and a short film on Thomas and Claire’s farm here.  Ambassador since 2019 



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