Did you know that waste in excess of 60% that is created by the average U.S. household could be recycled or composted? Regrettably, only 8 percent of American waste is composted, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Did you also know that yard waste, such as grass trimmings, adds up to almost 20% of all garbage produced every year? When dumped into a landfill site, organic matter like food and grass trimmings occupy a large area and play a significant part in the formation of methane gas, a greenhouse gas that “remains in the atmosphere for approximately 9-15 years…and is over 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide” (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).
Composting organic matter like food and grass trimmings is simple, especially when using a purchased compost bin. Making a compost pile on your own is certainly an option, but compost bins on the market come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and time and again, make the process of composting virtually effortless. No matter how you choose to compost your organic wastes, the benefits of composting are indisputable. Composting helps the environment by decreasing greenhouse gases and other contaminants in the air that would be created because of simply throwing organic wastes into the local landfill or incinerator. Composting also saves money by providing you with free fertilizer for your garden. Finally, compost puts nutrients back into the soil, making your garden soil richer and plants healthier.
The initial phase in composting is to select a compost bin. Compost bins are obtainable in all shapes and sizes, so the size of your garden or yard is not an issue. Large compost bins let devoted gardeners with a sizeable growing area the ability to make enough compost to last throughout the growing season. On the other hand, small compost bins can fit in the kitchen or on the balcony of a small apartment home and provide enough compost for house plants and a small herb garden. Knowing how much time you wish to spend tending to your compost pile and how much space you have to devote to a compost bin will benefit you while you select the most appropriate compost bin.
Now that you have selected the best compost bin, it’s time to begin filling it with organic matter. But can you put any kind of organic matter into a compost pile? Unfortunately, no. The common advice is to fill your compost bin with a mixture of 50 percent “browns,” and 50 percent “greens.” The “browns” add carbon to the mix and consist of some of the ingredients that follow:
Chopped Cornstalks – must be shredded or chopped into very small pieces first
“Greens” add nitrogen to the mix and comprise a few of the items that follow:
Most Kitchen Wastes (see below for exceptions)
Manure from non-meat eating animals
Do not include the following types of organic matter into your compost bin unless properly prepared first:
Plants with diseases
Grass clippings with pesticides or other chemicals
Hedge trimmings and branches
Pine Cones and pine needles
Sod and soil
For information about how to prepare these types of organic matter for composting, visit the website of your local agricultural extension office.
Some organic matter does not belong in a compost bin. Never add the following items to the compost bin:
Animal related products that would attract pests and create an odor problem including bones; dairy products such as butter, cheese, mayonnaise, salad dressing, milk, yogurt, sour cream; fish scraps, meat
Other food wastes including cooked food, peanut butter, fatty or greasy foods
Manure from meat-eating animals (including humans)
Charcoal and briquettes
Glossy and/or colored paper
Maintaining your compost pile depends on the type of compost bin you have selected. Some compost bins require that the pile be mixed periodically, but some compost bins require no mixing. Refer to the compost bin manufacturer’s instructions for details.
By purchasing or building your own compost bin that meets your specific needs, and by following some basic rules and recommendations, you can create your own dollar stretching, earth friendly, plant enriching compost.
Trey Collier is owner of BackyardCity.com, North America’s finest Outdoor Casual Living Store, designed and created to help fashion outdoor living spaces. Since 2001, BackyardCity.com has offered internet customers quality outdoor living products, including Compost Bins, at very reasonable prices.
This page frequently asked questions (FAQs) are here for you!
If you have a question about composting or are here to offer up some tips, this page FAQ is here for you.
Built for three reasons:
1. in order to give you answers to your most frequently asked questions about composting.
2. in order to provide you with a means of asking any question related to composting can have on your mind.
3. in order to provide a page to talk with one another, share your experiences and composting answer questions each other.
We would love for you to think that we have the answers to all your questions, but we rather composting humble to know that we are there so many States more knowledge we compost friend breed, that we could never take credit for all the wonderful information provided on this site.
Together, we share our message about the fascinating world of composting.
1. What is Composting? Composting takes part as microbes in order to help speed up the breakdown of organic waste, creating an ideal environment for these microbes, including moisture content, temperature and oxygen content that encourages people to grow and Digest waste faster … read more
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Put simply, compost is decomposed organic matter. So those leaves breaking down on the forest floor are compost, as too are the bodies at the cemetery. All organic matter lives, then dies and breaks down into different qualities of compost. That breakdown of organic matter is carried out by animals, plants, moulds, microbes, air and water, basically ‘nature’ or ‘mother earth’ depending on how whimsical you feel.
That was the easy answer, but the long answer is dependent on what kind of gardener you are. Do you make your own garden compost, and if so how? Or do you just buy it in bags from the store? Every gardener who is a fan of garden composting has a slightly different method. They will use slightly different ingredients in their garden composters. So everyone’s garden compost is a bit different!
Garden soil tends to be a combination of crushed rock and mineral mixed up with hummus (the end result of your garden compost bin). Compost is the bulk within the soil but not necessarily the nutrient provider. Hummus improves the soil structure, allowing it to hold moisture and air.
The more hummus the soil has the better the structure. The soil will not be compacted, as some clay soils are apt to do. Hummus opens them out leaving air pockets which are so vital for the micro-organisms and insect life so vital to the health and vitality of the soil and eventually your plants.
Hummus is spongy and great at holding water so is vital for those with sandy soils. But, any soil will be improved by the addition of more hummus. Home compost is free and easy to create. There is no reason not to compost waste from the home and garden. Much easier to trapse to the bottom of the garden with garden waste or kitchen scraps to compost, than sort them out and place in bins for a destiny in municipal landfill.
Brilliantly, many local authorities across Europe and the US are recycling organic waste on a commercial scale. But if you have space for even the smallest beehive compost bin it makes sense to keep your garden waste for yourself and make your own garden compost. Your compost will be a very locally sourced product and free to boot!
Compost or hummus provides the soil with slow release nutrients. The variety of nutrients will depend entirely on what the compost originally was. For example composting a nitrogen rich poultry manure, will give a nitrogen rich compost.
The very best garden composts are made from a wide variety of ingredients so the resulting hummus is full of the widest variety of nutrients. The hummus which is the end product of the garden composter should be spongy in texture and full of all the trace elements needed in the garden.
So when you are making compost at home the very best approach is to put as many different things in your garden compost bin, as possible. That way you will get the widest variety of goodness to put on your garden.
It is worth telling friends and neighbours if you are starting garden composting. That way you can get more ‘food’ for the compost bin from them. Composting is the ultimate in garden recycling. And, the more you can recycle to the composter the better the compost will be.
The biggest problem most people face is not being able to fill the garden compost bin fast enough. The whole point of garden compositng, is to improve on what nature does all day every day. The earth tends to compost slowly. Moulds, bacteria, insects, scavengers all slowly turning what was once alive, into hummus to feed the next generation. If you leave a pile of dead leaves in the corner of your garden, eventually nature will break them down. But since they’re dry and exposed to the elements, along with being one solitary type of matter, the process will be very slow. Indeed you may find they’ve all blown away before you get a decent leaf mulch!
Garden composting means helping nature out. Gathering all the dead matter you want to recycle into garden compost, and then protecting it from the elements will speed up the process no end. Also using as wide variety of ingredients for your compost bins will introduce lots of different organisms that work together to make your compost useful in no time.
When carried out successfully garden compost is a beautiful, nutty product that improves the fertility and productivity of your garden. To the successful gardener, composting is a way to save money, work with the environment, recycle and reduce waste. Perhaps most importantly it is a way of ensuring the garden remains productive over the long term. If we are forever harvesting crops we literally reduce the soil bulk and soil vitality of our garden. You can see this in practice as over the years the actual level of soil on a vegetable plot will sink. Maybe more importantly crop yields and performance will falter unless something is done.
Although garden compost is not particularly rich (say in comparison with an organic fertilizer) in nutrients immediately available to plants, it is a feeder as well as bulker for the soil. The nutrients locked up in the compost will be ‘slow release’ nutrients which means putting composted matter on the garden, means feeding in the long term. This will promote tough plants which are fully developed and strong, not the sappy growth susceptible to disease which quick release fertilizers can give.
The soil life; microbes, bacteria, worms and so on will pull down the compost into the soil where it can do even more good. Best of all you don’t have to dig it in!
See I said the answer to ‘What is Compost?’ was a long one! for some people compost is a sad pile of leaves and grass clippings, fermenting in the corner of the garden. But, for the successful gardener, compost is a useful, spongy hummus and a great way to recycle all manner of garden and kitchen waste. Make sure the latter is the answer to ‘What is Compost?’ for you by looking after your garden composter!
I have lots more articles on gardening. Please check out my page and go to my blog from there!
It is estimated that the average person throws away around 4 pounds of garbage per day. Around 75 percent of that garbage is comprised of organic matter, which means it is compostable. Isn’t it time we started doing our part to reduce the amount of garbage ending up in landfills and learned how to compost?
Composting is a way to speed up the natural, biological process through which organic wastes are reduced to humus, which is dark, earth like organic matter that has reached the point where it will not break down any further. This finished compost or humus greatly improves soil texture and better enables the soil to retain nutrients, moisture and air for the support of healthy flowers and vegetables. Composting is something we can all do to help the environment, and it is rather easy to learn how to compost.
It is important to remember that there is no “right or wrong” way to compost. You can make good compost in a pile or heap in your backyard or you can make good compost in a manufactured composter.
The secret to making good compost is the proper mix of organic material. There are three main ingredients involved in composting.
1. Browns-dead leaves, branches, cardboard, paper, etc.
2. Greens-grass clippings, fruit and vegetable wastes and coffee grounds
The browns add carbon to your compost pile, the greens add nitrogen and the water provides moisture to assist in the breakdown of organic matter. Your compost pile or composter should contain equal amounts (50%/50%) of browns and greens with enough water to make the organic matter moist but not soggy.
In learning how to compost, let’s now consider the four stages of the composting process:
1. Fresh: At stage one, the materials being composed are dark in color and still easily recognizable; micro-organisms are sparse and just beginning their activity; a rise in temperature can be observed: This is the heat phase.
2. Partially Decomposed: At stage two the compost has a mild, not unpleasant odor; it contains many micro-organisms the materials being composted are very loose and brittle, and almost unrecognizable; mushroom may be present, aiding to decompose the most resistant materials: cellulose, lignin, and wood; chemical exchange takes place during this stage: This is the gaseous and liquid phase.
3. Mature: At stage three, recombination of decomposition products from preceding stages occurs: This is the humidification phase.
4. Aged Compost: At stage four, the compost looks almost like soil (loam); it resembles natural topsoil; its organic matter and nitrogen content are low: This is the mineralization phase.
At this point we should have a better idea of how to compost. Now, you may be asking yourself, “How do I start composting?”
1. Determine which method you desire to use. Will you create a compost pile or heap? Will you build a compost bin? Or, will you purchase a manufactured composter?
2. Next, start being diligent in separating your garbage. Start setting aside materials that can be added to your compost pile or composter. Of course organic materials such as vegetable peelings, coffee grounds and egg shells can be added. But, you can also add things like toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls and shredded cardboard as well.
I have a cross-cut shredder and shred all “white” paper from my junk mail, and I add this shredded paper to my compost bin. Do not use colored paper or paper printed with colored inks as these are not good for your compost. Also, be sure to keep out things such as envelopes with glassine windows, as these materials do not readily break down in the composting process.
Finally, yard waste, such as grass clippings, is a great nitrogen-rich additive to your compost pile or composter. Be careful not to put weeds or invasive plants in your compost pile or composter because you do not want to run the risk of these plants “infecting” your compost.
3. Remain committed to your composting endeavors. With some diligence you should have your first batch of compost in 3-4 months using a compost pile or heap and even sooner if you use a composter. Composters retain the heat generated from the composting process, which in turns breaks down the organic materials more quickly. Also, compost tumblers assure that the compost is well mixed, which further aids in thorough decomposition. With compost tumblers you can have finished compost in as little as 3 weeks.
As you can see, learning how to compost is not as difficult a task as you may have expected. The biggest challenge is changing your lifestyle so that you are more conscious of what, in your “world,” can be composted. Composting is a wonderful way to recycle your garbage and turn it into nutrient-rich compost to be used in your garden, while at the same time reducing the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills.
Start composting today! Composting is good for the environment and your garden. For more information on what items can be composted, you may want to read “What Can You Compost?”
GoodCompost.com is your source for composters and composting equipment, as well as composting know-how. We are here to help you get started composting at home today. Come by for a visit. http://www.goodcompost.com/
Did you know that leaves make great compost? Yes, I said wonderful leaves! Those leaves falling outside your window are a great source of organic material for making compost.
It’s true-leaves are an excellent organic material for making compost for a couple of reasons:
Since trees usually have extensive root systems, leaves end up being the recipient of all those nutrients gathered from the soil.
Leaves are highly fibrous improving the aeration and composition of the soil.
Now, I can hear you saying, “I tried to compost my leaves, but it didn’t work.” Probably most people have had some negative experience trying to compost leaves. Actually, leaves can take several years to break down if you fail to compost them properly. Don’t worry, learning how to compost leaves is not nearly as difficult as you may think. We are going to show you the easy way to compost leaves.
The first question many people ask is “What kind of leaves work best for composting?” Just about any typical leaf works great. Here are some of the most common leaf types:
We should mention that if oak or beech leaves are used exclusively the resulting compost will be a bit more acidic making it quite suitable for plants such as rhododendrons and blueberries. You can tone down the acidity by adding some limestone to the leaves as you fill your compost bin or compost pile.
There are two important things that you must do when you compost leaves to ensure that your leaves will compost properly. The first thing is to make sure your leaves are shredded when adding them to your composter, compost tumbler or compost pile.
Shredding your leaves is quite easy. You can mow over them several times before you rake them up. Also, there are a number of manufacturers who make shredder / chippers that work great for leaves. I even had a gasoline powered blower that had a vacuum attachment for picking up leaves, which left the leaves in a nice shredded state.
The second important thing you must do when you compost leaves is to make sure that you add nitrogen to your compost bin or compost pile. Leaves contain very little nitrogen. It is this lack of nitrogen that causes the leaves to decay slowly. Adding nitrogen to your compost bin or compost pile will help to speed up the decomposition process of the leaves. Adding nitrogen can be as simple as adding grass clippings with the leaves as you fill your compost tumbler or compost bin.
Other sources of nitrogen include manure, dried blood, alfalfa meal, and bone meal. If you are using manure, use 1 part manure to five parts leaves. If you are using a natural source of nitrogen such as dried blood, use two cups per wheelbarrow load of leaves.
Once you have shredded your leaves and found an additional nitrogen source, you simply add your leaves and nitrogen source to your compost tumbler, compost bin or compost pile and keep the leaves moist but not wet and allow nature to do its thing. You will of course want to keep your leaves turned on a fairly regular basis if you are using a compost bin or compost pile.
If you want to make the composting process even quicker and easier, a compost tumbler works the best. With a compost tumbler you are able to easily turn your compost on a weekly basis keeping the organic material well-mixed thereby speeding up the decomposition process. With a compost tumbler you can have compost in as little as 3 or 4 weeks. Two great compost tumblers for backyard composting are the Envirocycle Compost Tumbler and the Tumbleweed Compost Tumbler.
Hopefully, at this point you will look on those falling leaves a little more favorably. Taking some time to compost leaves in the fall will result in great compost to use in your garden in the spring. So go outside, rake some leaves and make some compost!
For additional information on composting you may want to read “What Can You Compost?” Happy raking and composting! “Don’t throw it away, compost it!”
GoodCompost.com is your source for composters and composting equipment, as well as composting know-how. We are here to help you get started composting at home today. Come by for a visit. http://www.goodcompost.com/
It’s pretty basic really, make a pile of mixed up organic (in the it was once alive sense of the word) items. You can use a commercial compost bin or compost tumbler, a homemade compost box of old wood scraps or chicken-wire, or even just make a big pile of compost in a corner of the yard. The important bit is what goes into your compost pile not how expensive it was to construct.
What Can I Compost?
Nature is already showing us what we can compost. In its most basic sense anything that was once alive will break down into organic components. So if an item is comprised of 100% natural materials it can be composted. So your goal when composting should be if something was once alive it can be added to my compost pile to prevent its goodness being wasted. Anything once alive will add goodness to your garden when it has been composted.
Now we all have preconceived notions of what can be added to the compost pile and need to work with these. If there is something on the list you do not already compost try adding it. You’ll reduce your household waste and increase your compost heap.
* Compost your garden prunings, lawn clippings and weeds. Just make sure the prunings are shredded or broken up into small pieces and lawn clippings are mixed throughout the compost heap. Prolific weeds may be soaked in a bucket of water for a few weeks so they turn into mush which definitely won’t survive the heat of your compost pile. Seriously diseased plants such as brassicas infected with clubroot may be burnt first and the ashes added to the plot to prevent the clubroot disease reinfecting your soil later on.
* Compost your vegetable peelings. All your vegetable waste from the kitchen can go straight onto your compost pile.
* Compost your paper and cardboard. All your uncoated paper and card should be shredded / ripped up and added to the compost heap. Don’t forget to remove plastic windows from envelopes and plastic tape from cardboard packaging. Laminated papers and cards cannot be added as they’ll leave a plastic film which won’t break down so keep an eye on what kind of paper and card products you purchase.
* Compost your kitchen scraps even meat and fish. Meat and fish was once alive so will compost down into lovely goodness for your soil too. Just ensure your compost pile is pet proof and put these items deep into the pile, not just left on top for the local wildlife to feast on! Raw or cooked kitchen scraps will break down but if there is any issue with dogs trying to break into your heap cooked bones may be a problem as they are brittle and could be dangerous if swallowed.
* Compost dog waste. Again make sure the composting dog poop is always buried within the compost heap and it will break down fine. Poo (manure) is full of bacteria who love to break down organic items. Introducing manure to your compost pile will bring in these useful bacteria to help speed up the composting process.
* Compost manure. If you have other livestock or access to farmyard manure the addition of small quantities throughout the compost heap will heat things up and speed things along. Commercial organic compost activators are often primarily dried manure.
* Compost urine. This is probably best left to the boys. Urine is full of nutrients which will help activate your compost pile. Asking a gentleman to occasionally wee on the compost pile will do nothing but good.
* Compost human manure. It’s no different to any other manure and can be composted very successfully. So if you have space for a dry composting toilet you can reduce your water usage and improve your compost creation in one step.
* Compost wood ash and sawdust. Wood ash from a wood burning fire is excellent added to the heap providing potash and other nutrients. Sawdust added in small quantities through the pile will improve bulk but may slow down the composting action if added too liberally.
* Compost pet or livestock bedding. Whether it be bedding from a gerbil cage or the contents of a hen coop, these natural materials (straw / hay / sawdust etc) will be covered in animal manure and urine and therefore fantastic additions to the compost heap. N.B. most commercial cat litters are not natural and thus not suitable for the compost heap – make sure you read the packet to see if the product is natural and was ‘once alive’.
* Other natural fibers. So old woolen sweaters, cotton socks, hair (if you cut your own) or pet fur (if you trim theirs) will break down too. Don’t forget to check for synthetic additions to clothing including buttons, zippers or just man-made fibers such as lycra.
Remember! Anything which was once alive, will break down into compost.
How to Compost
Unless you’re using a commercial container for composting, a rough guide is to aim for a finished heap at around 1m (or 1 yard) cubed. Once you reach your finished size cover your pile with carpet or plastic sheeting to keep the worst of the weather off and leave your heap to do its stuff for six months to a year.
If you’re using any kind of manure leave the heap for at least a year before putting it onto your soil. If the heap is working well all pathogens contained in the manure will have been long gone in around three months but its easier to wait longer and not have to worry!
Ensure your compost heap is pet-proof.
Make sure the heap is built with a mixture of items so it remains aerated throughout due to the different sizes and types of particles within it. If you’re likely to have a surplus of one item such as grass clippings make a separate pile of this which you can then add at intervals onto the heap. Try to aim for a layered approach to the compost heap such as some kitchen scraps followed by lawn clippings, paper, dog waste, ash etc.
If you live in a dry climate add water / urine / washing up water to the heap. The compost heap is full of living organisms so it needs to be moist. Likewise if you live in a wet climate cover the heap to prevent all those living organisms drowning.
Be sensible. You’re adding things that are starting to break down – food scraps, animal waste, so observe basic hygiene at all times – keep the kids occupied somewhere else and wash your hands!
It is good practice to cover anything animals might find interesting within the heap. So either dig a small hole whenever adding kitchen waste etc or keep a batch of weeds / law clippings / straw etc to cover the interesting stuff whenever you add it. This will deter animal and insect pests. If you leave a piece of leftover roast chicken breast on the top of your compost heap you would expect a few birds, flies, cats and dogs to take an interest so cover up the interesting stuff! This will also keep the smells in.
Your finished compost will smell like rich woodland soil, crumbly and dark. But obviously if you’re adding poo to your pile you don’t want the smell of poo around before the composting action gets going. So cover up or bury within the heap, all the smelly stuff!
Once you add your own made compost to your garden you’ll never want to buy another bag of the shop bought stuff again and you’ll love have less household waste to dispose of elsewhere. So go on get composting. It is the most basic method of reducing waste and recycling. Mother Nature’s always done it and now, so should we.
‘Mature’ organic compost is a natural and simple choice for solving those problems. An application of ‘mature’ compost, along with periodic applications of compost tea, will improve the overall health & vigor of your landscape. It will also lower your overall maintenance & water requirements for the summer & thereafter. Compost is simply good for your family, lawn, & gardens.
Why use compost?
It’s simply the most natural choice available. Mature compost is safe for you and your family. It contains nothing unnatural or poisonous. Your garden & lawn will be safe for you, your children and your pets to use during and immediately after application. Compost improves your lawn & gardens’ drought tolerance and reduces watering requirements by improving the plant’s root systems and the soils’ ability to retain water. Mature compost can safely be applied around pools and applied directly into ponds, streams and rivers without risk to the environment. It also promotes & creates an environment in which birds & butterflies thrive. Your lawn & garden will have fewer weeds, insect pests or diseases. Compost allows the soil to gain strength naturally and the plants grown it will naturally thrive. Compost gives you healthier and more attractive soil, grass, trees & plants. You will need no synthetic chemical fertilizers or poisons. Co
Can using compost save me time, money & labor?
Yes! You will no longer need to bag the grass clippings or to remove thatch as compost aids in their rapid assimilation. The compost will also reduce the amount of water needed. Compost improves the heat and drought tolerance of your lawn & garden thus decreasing loss and replacement costs. Healthy plants simply require less maintenance. These facts alone save you much time, money and labor.
Does compost improve the heat and drought tolerance of my plants?
Yes! The organic materials in compost, in conjunction with the rhizobacteria and rhizofungi, naturally loosen and aerate the soil. This allows greater water & root penetration. The same combination works together to encapsulate and hold moisture in the soil by creating soil aggregates. Soil aggregates are a naturally occurring microcosmic system that rhizobacteria & rhizofungi produces in order to keep themselves from drying up and dying. The plant roots grow into these aggregates and are provided a natural reserve of nutrients and water that otherwise would have dissipated from the soil.
What is compost?
According to Webster’s dictionary “a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter and is used for fertilizing and conditioning land.” Properly composted material is heated by the decomposition process and does not have any weed seeds, nor, will it burn your plants as chemical fertilizers do.
Does compost smell bad?
No! not if it’s fully ‘matured’. We advise that you only use fully composted material. Fully composted, organic material smells like rich organic garden soil. If it smells like anything else, do not use it, as it is not mature and can cause harm to your lawn & garden. Not all composts are created equally and we suggest that you fully investigate the source of the supplier. Truly mature, “organic”, compost is totally safe & nontoxic to your family and the soil in which the plants grow.
What is Compost Tea?
A simple definition of compost tea is that it is a water extract of organic compost that is brewed in a similar way that your morning tea is made. It contains natural soluble nutrients and a great diversity of beneficial, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes. It is a totally organic, living, synergistic microcosm that introduces renewed life to the soil and plants. From our many years of experience we’ve found that compost tea supercharges new compost applications.
How does compost/tea help to suppress disease causing bacteria and fungi?
The rhizobacteria (good bacteria) controls the growth of the “bad” bacteria by keeping the soil aerobic so that the ‘bad’ bacteria cannot live & prosper. Likewise the “good” fungi compete with the “bad” fungi and keep them under control as well. Healthy soil makes for healthy plants in the same way that healthy food makes for healthy people and animals.
What do beneficial bacteria do for plants?
Beneficial bacteria make essential soil mineral elements available to the plant by decomposing organic matter and improving the physical properties of the soil. Trees, flowers and lawns that have an abundance of rhizobacteria live longer, need little to no chemical treatment, as they suffer from very few disease problems.
How does compost/tea reduce thatch?
“Thatch” is simply a layer of dead un-decayed plant material. The rhizobacteria breaks down the thatch into organic humus that is then reintroduced naturally into the soil to feed the grass.
Why not use chemical fertilizers?
Synthetic chemicals sterilize the soil and make more and more applications of chemicals absolutely necessary. This is like putting your plants on continuous life support. They may stay barely alive, but they will never thrive. Your lawn & garden will suffer from continuous problems which will require more water, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides & ever greater amounts of fertilizer. It’s very important that you don’t use synthetic chemicals on your lawn or garden.
What about weeds?
Long term use of compost and compost tea while avoiding chemical fertilizers can prevent weeds naturally. According to Dr. Ingham of Soil Foodweb Inc.: “Weeds all require high levels of nitrates, so nitrogen fertilizer actually selects for weeds, If you drop your nitrates to less than 10 ppm, the weeds leave. When you have mycorrhizal fungi directly feeding plants, you can drop soil nitrate levels below that threshold level and thistle, johnson grass, and nightshade all disappear. If you have good calcium levels, you decrease the composites, because they can’t tolerate calcium. Next time you want to get rid of crabgrass, mix egg shells into the ground.” Reprinted from the Maine Organic Farmer and Gardener. Dr. Ingham Puts Soil Life to Work – Maine Organic Farmer ’99′
We also recommend periodic Corn Gluten meal applications. Corn gluten meal is a useful, natural, pre-emergent pesticide that works very well in controlling weeds and greatly compliments the usage of compost and compost tea.
What about insects?
Any naturally healthy environment has a great need of bio-diversity. Chemically treated gardens create an unnatural and imbalanced state. Using compost and compost tea instead of chemicals promotes natural bio-diversity and a subsequent growth of beneficial insect populations. The beneficial insects prey upon the harmful pests & naturally keep them from overwhelming the garden ecology. In urban settings, it’s often necessary to reintroduce beneficial insects into your lawn & garden from outside sources.
How long will it take to see results?
You can see results within two weeks after the first application of compost. Using a combination of compost & compost tea, we have seen results in as soon as four seven days during the growing season. Your lawn & garden will continue to improve each day thereafter as the soil becomes more alive. Even greater improvement will be noticed with additional compost and compost tea applications.
Conrad Cain is the President of Home & Garden Design, Inc. Home & Garden Design supplies residential landscape design and installation and promotes naturally organic, lawn and garden reclamation in the Atlanta Georgia area. In conjunction with his life partner Danna Cain, ASLA landscape Architect, they have more than 50 years experience in the Green Industry. Their mutual creations have been featured in national & regional magazines, local garden tours and numerous feature articles. For additional Green Living information please visit: http://www.mygreennetwork.com and http://www.home-garden-design.com
Compost manure is the best nutrition you can give to growing plants. Because it is rich in natural plant material means that it’s the best type of fertilizer to feed to your plants.
Organic fertilizer of this nature is not exactly easy to make but after you have finished with it you will have good manure that will make your plants grow faster than the typical inorganic fertilizer that is sold in agricultural shops.
Compost bin composting is a new method of making compost that people now prefer to the usual type. This new type of manure is made from the normal compost materials; the only difference is that this is made in a garbage bin. So instead of throwing the plant material in a hole dug in the ground you simply fill up a garbage bin in place of a hole.
The process of manuring is the same; the only other difference is that the compost bin has to be kept inches from the ground to prevent rusting. A lot of people prefer compost bin manure because it’s a cleaner way of making compost manure. The old type of compost heaps could easily be messy and untidy especially with a dog around that just loves pulling at twigs and heaped up material.
The fact that it’s cleaner means that people who were always opposed to compost heaps on grounds of filth can very easily make manure. Something else to really adore about compost bin manure is that it’s convenient for small households that are too small to have space for compost manure. Therefore if you have a small garden on your apartment balcony you can easily maintain it using a simple garbage bin.
In addition to this the manure comes out finer when there are enough micro-organisms to decompose the plant material. Because the plants remain trapped the decomposing process is faster under such humid conditions.
Whether you are an ordinary gardener, or an organic gardener which doesn’t use of any sort of chemical additive for fertilization or pest control, a quality compost becomes one of the most important factors in determining the ultimate success of your garden. Compost is one of nature’s best mulches and soil amendments. With a good quality compost there is no need to use any sort of commercial fertilizer, and one of the best features of compost is that it can literally be made without spending a dime.
What Exactly Is Compost
Compost is the remnants of any organic material that has been aerobically decomposed. Compost is often also called humus. In earth science “humus” is defined as any organic matter which has reached a point of stability, where it will break down no further and can remain essentially as it is for centuries, or even millennia. So both words, for practical gardening purposes, basically mean the same thing; the end product of decomposed organic matter. It is also important to note that this decomposition is a result of a aerobic process as opposed to an anaerobic process. For example, vegetables placed in an airtight plastic bag will still decompose but will do so in an anaerobic manner since there is limited oxygen available. Anaerobic decomposition is what produces the foul odor that most of us are quite aware of.
The Compost Decomposition Process
The decomposition of organic matter is actually a process of repeated digestions as organic matter repeatedly passes through the intestinal tracts of soil animals or is attacked by the digestive enzymes secreted by microorganisms. Compost is the end product of this complex feeding pattern involving hundreds of different microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, worms, and insects. In reality composting simply replicates nature’s natural system of breaking down materials on the forest floor. But fortunately for us, the organic gardener, this process results in a product that significantly improves soil fertility and helps keep the soil in a healthy balanced condition where nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus will be produced naturally.
Although almost any organic material can be used for compost pile, caution should be used when backyard composting as most backyard systems will not reach high enough temperatures to kill pathogens or deter vermin. So generally pet feces, non vegetarian animal manure, meat scraps, and dairy products should not be used unless you can be sure that an adequate temperatures will be reached.
To ensure proper composting your compost pile needs the right mixture of carbon rich “brown matter” and nitrogen rich “green matter”. Brown matter can consist of such items as dried leaves, straw, sawdust, wood chips, and even non-inked paper and cardboard. Green matter can include green plant material such as grass clippings, fresh cut hay, weeds, animal manures, fruit and vegetable table scraps, seaweed’s, and coffee grounds.
The Composting Process
This speed by which the composting process will occur will depend to a large extent on amount of effort you desire to put into creating the compost. Passive composting obviously takes the least amount of effort on your part. You simply mix the materials together in a freestanding pile and allow them to sit and rot on their own. This process may take a year or two but eventually you’ll have compost.
However, by actively managing your compost pile, you can often get finished compost in as little as one month. You can actively decrease the amount of time it takes to create compost if you’re willing to take the time to chop up your materials since shredded organic materials can heat up more rapidly and decompose quickly.
Heat is an important factor in effective composting. Hot composting allows aerobic bacteria to thrive. The ideal condition is for pasteurization to occur in a hot compost. Pasteurization will occur when the temperature reaches 55° Celsius (131°F) or more for three or more days. This will kill most pathogens and seeds. Pasteurized compost is valuable to the home gardener since the pasteurization process is otherwise both expensive and complicated, and adding chemicals to produce pasteurization is not an acceptable alternative for organic gardening.
For many gardeners, space is often an issue, and even you have adequate space in your backyard you may not want to have a large unsightly compost heap. Compost tumblers offer a reasonable and effective alternative to the compost pile. And while the claims of some compost tumblers to produce compost in as little as 13 days may be slightly exaggerated, they do offer several benefits over the standard compost heap and they actually can accelerate the decomposition process because of their convenience.
There are a number of benefits of compost tumblers. First, they are generally easy to use and come in a number of sizes and styles that make the turning of your compost piles much easier. Second, because they are fully enclosed they are pest proof from such common pests as squirrels, raccoons, rats and dogs. Also, because tumblers are in a closed environment it’s much easier to retain moisture so your compost doesn’t dry out. Also in wet weather it won’t get too soggy. The enclosed environment also keeps unpleasant orders inside the compost tumbler (however if you’re keeping your compost properly aerated by proper turning there should not be any unpleasant odors).
Whether you garden by more modern means, or are a strict organic gardener, one thing is certain; healthy plants come from a healthy and nutritious soil. By making your own compost (a.k.a. gardeners black gold), not only are you being environmentally friendly and very economical, you’re producing your own natural black gold for your vegetables, herbs and flowers and providing healthy, safe, and great tasting food for your loved ones.
Katie Collins is a gardener, mother and writer. For more great articles and advice on gardening please visit our websites at Great Vegetable Gardens [http://www.greatvegetablegardens.com] and Better Organic Gardens [http://www.betterorganicgardens.com/blog]
If you are a new to garden composting and have little space for a Garden Composter you may be concerned with how the garden compost bin will impact on the garden. I would recommend new home composters with small gardens to start with a beehive compost bin if possible. It is true that in many gardens the home made compost pile is often a rather untidy affair, and the bought garden compost bin is often not a beautiful option either, all brown or green plastic. In many situations this is fine, and indeed appropriate. But in smaller gardens particularly, where things cannot be hidden and every garden fixture and fitting has an impact on the whole, it is nice to achieve the garden recycling dream of home composting without detracting from the beauty of the garden. A wooden beehive compost bin will provide you with an effective garden composter while improving the beauty of your outside space.
It makes sense, in a small garden to have a relatively small garden compost bin. But it must still be practical. The compost bin must be large enough for you to take at least three to six months to fill. Then you leave for three to six months to decompose. During that time you need another compost bin to fill. If you only have one compost bin, you will need to take out the decomposed contents from the bottom of the bin regularly, while still continually adding to the top of the bin. This is possible but far from ideal. Two garden compost bins, or a dual chamber compost bin, is best. But I admit once you get the home composting bug, you well want more. Indeed we have four at present but in the future, who knows!
My first foray into the world of home composting was with a municipally sponsored, 200 litre capacity, plastic compost bin. I have to say it worked really well. The plastic stops the compost drying out and keeps things warm. The garden compost we got from our plastic bin was fine and crumbly and really gave me the garden composting bug. But that big plastic compost bin didn’t look that great in the small urban garden we then had.
Local councils often sponsor compost bins and water barrels. Check with yours. That was how we got our first water barrel and plastic compost bin. It made both very cheap indeed.
The ugliness of those plastic compost bins is a turn-off for some though. Indeed I have friends with small gardens who just would not have one in the garden to spoil the view. Even though they like to be ‘green’ and ‘eco’ in other ways they couldn’t bring themselves to recycle kitchen waste and recycle garden waste via such an eyesore! Daft I suppose, but true and far from rare thoughts, I imagine. Lets face it, as much as many of us like to lessen our impact on the earth we still have certain wants and needs. And, if yours is keeping the garden pretty and/or plastic free, the plastic compost bin and water barrel combo is not for you!
This is why I am such a fan of the wooden beehive composter. They are beautiful. Indeed I would love one, even though it would be totally impractical as we compost vast quantities of organic matter. They are just so attractive!
I think being able to buy a beautiful product is a great thing. If you aren’t one of life’s natural garden composters, happy with bins made of pallets, plastic and chicken wire, a touch of glamour may well motivate you. I can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t want to visit and regularly top up such a pretty garden compost bin! Surprisingly they aren’t as expensive as I assumed they’d be either, and really do make a feature out of whatever spot in the garden they appear in.
I would always advise having as large a compost bin as possible and indeed composting as much garden, kitchen and animal waste as practical. I am the proud owner of a dry compost loo, so I know whereof I speak. But, for small gardens and just those new to home composting, I think getting a pretty compost bin is a great idea.
So many people think making garden compost is dirty, or difficult, or hard work, that for them, building an array of compost boxes is never going to be even a thought. But for anyone who starts home composting even just a few kitchen scraps and lawn clippings in a relatively small prebuilt compost bin, it is still a reduction in commercial composts sold, peat bog destroyed and landfill filled.
Thus, even though I will never have one, I thoroughly see the point of the beautiful, rustic wooden beehive compost bins and still lust after them in my girlier gardening moments. But for me the whole point of garden composting is to make as much hummus as possible so they would never be practical here.
I think they would make a great pressie for someone (with a pretty garden) who is yet to be converted to the merits of composting garden waste or kitchen scraps too. For those people will see ‘what is compost?’ quickly and through the rose tinted spectacles of someone with a particularly beautiful compost bin!
Sealed garden compost bins are great for composting without worrying about vermin or indeed children getting their hands on the kitchen waste. In wet climates your sealed bins mean you don’t get the whole heap too wet (which would stop the microbes being able to function). They also prevent all the goodness leaching away. Sealed compost bins are equally fab in hot climates where the heap could dry out (microbes do need moist conditions just not saturated ones).
If I was just starting out garden composting or a looking for a small garden composter, I would definitely look into the wooden beehive compost bin option. Whether to improve the look of a small garden or because you are only composting kitchen waste on a small scale, they work well and look great.
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Don't blow your money on useless materials or waste your time with back-breaking labor while trying to grow a healthy garden. You can easily create the mother of all plant nutrition right in your backyard, using less time, energy, or money than you ever imagined was possible.