Episode 173: The Composting Process

This week’s guest is ecologist and author Julian Doberski. If you think about compost heaps, how much do you really think about the living micro and macro organisms that dwell within them, how they contribute to the composting process and how what you do to your heap can increase or decrease their chances of survival?

Julian has written about the science of what goes on in a compost heap and about the living organisms who provide the ‘hard graft’ of transforming waste organic matter in his latest publication The Science of Compost. I spoke to Julian to find out more.

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What We Talk About

What is compost?

Does what go in also come out? Eg if we want a high nitrogen compost product should we use raw materials that are also high in nitrogen?

How do you know what you’ll be getting as an end product?

How do you get the right balance of the organisms that break down the heap?

The correct ratio of woody versus green materials in a compost heap

What makes a compost heap break down, apart from the organisms in it? 

About Julian Doberski

Julian Doberski has degrees in Zoology (BSc Southampton), Forestry (MSc Oxford) and a PhD in biological control of insects using fungi (Cambridge). He has thirty years of teaching experience at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge (and its predecessor institutions) where he was a Principal Lecturer in Ecology. He has jointly published a resource pack for A level ecology students and a range of scientific research and science in education papers. He is currently retired and lives in Cambridgeshire.


The Science of Compost: Life, Death and Decay in the Garden by Dr. Julian Doberski

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