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Friday, April 28, 2017

Basic Compost Making – Best Tips and Tricks

Posted by admin on September 28, 2010

Composting can be very simple, but before you get started, you’ll want to find the right composting technique for you. There is such a wide variety of different methods and techniques, some are simple while others are far more complicated. For many years composting had a bad reputation for generating smelly backyards and attracting critters, but good composting doesn’t smell and is really easy to perform.

Organic material will always decompose by itself, but if you can make it happen faster and use the nutritious material for your garden with very little effort, then you really can take advantage of making less trash.

Here are the following things to take into consideration before you begin composting.

Your Composting Site

The location of your compost pile should be:-

1. Check with your local council if there are any ordinances that will regulate where you can put your pile.

2. Convenient or at least fairly convenient in relation to the kitchen. If you are not going to want to keep your scraps in the kitchen at all, then you’ll need to get to your pile easily.

3. Have good drainage. You don’t want your compost pile to be soaked, so it should have a little drainage. If you are going to build or buy a composter that is off the ground, then this won’t be a problem, but for compost piles, drainage is vital.

4. Direct sunlight could dry your compost pile out, but generally speaking this can easily be overcome and the heat from the sun will help to keep your compost warm and working.

5. Remember that your pile will attract small bugs and ants, so keep that in mind when choosing your location.

Composing Bins and Containers

Is it really important to have a bin or a container? Of course this will keep your pile from spreading as they all do and will keep your composting contained. If you choose to invest in a bin, you will need to also invest in a pitch fork in order to turn your compost. Some of the composting barrels allow for turning using a winder, or you can buy ones that have motor, but that kind of expense is only worth it if you are composting on a commercial level.

Alternatives to a container or bin will include just fencing off a section of your garden using chicken wire. Wood crates are also very popular as they allow air to circulate. Both of these methods are easy to build, cost effective and work very well.

Hot or Cold Composting

Depending on your circumstances, you may decide to do either hot or cold composting. Cold composting is often referred to as ‘no turn’ composting as a result of you not having to work your pile. You only include organic material and leave it to do its own thing. Cold composting takes much longer to decompose.

Hot composting is far more popular because the decomposition takes place much faster and allows for more greens to be added. Green veggies and cuttings will produce more heat in your composting pile. A hot, active compost pile can and will produce good quality compost within three to four months. While a cold pile will take close to a year to produce the same.

If you decide on a hot pile and want to know what temperature is ideal, you can purchase a composting thermometer from your local garden store. For novices, this is an unnecessary expense and if you aim is to reduce your trash and composting is not about producing huge amounts of compost fast, then your compost heap will work fine at any temperature.

Your Composting Ingredients

Starting your compost pile means including a particular recipe of ingredients to get the balance right. The materials are broken into categories of which the most important being green and brown compost materials.

Information on Green Compost Materials:-

1. Green compost materials create heat. By including them you will increase the temperature of your compost pile.

2. They are derived from kitchen scraps, fruit and veggie peels, greens, green leaves and green cutting and clippings from garden.

3. They create odors. In order to prevent your compost pile from smelling you will want to either bury them sufficiently in the pile or to cover with brown compost material.

Information on Brown Compost Materials:-

1. Brown compost materials reduce heat and will slow your composting down.

2. They include dry leaves, hay, dry grass and straw as well as sawdust.

One of the best ways to start your compost pile is to do so in layers. You can start with leaves and grass cuttings, then add some soil and then put your kitchen scraps in. Then top again with leaves and soil and you may even decide to add manure. Other items to include in your compost pile will be coffee grounds, leaves, grass and manure. Do not include any meat or dairy product in your pile as this will cause rotting rather than decomposing and will attract rodents.

How Wet Should Your Pile Be?

The best way to describe how moist your pile should be is like a squeezed out sponge. If you don’t experience much rain, then sprinkle water on your pile every few days. If your pile gets too waterlogged, you will need to think about drainage or raising it. For a little treat once in a while, add a little beer to your pile. The yeast will reaction positively with the bacteria and will keep your pile healthy.

Airing and Turning Your Pile

In order to have a healthy composting pile, you will need to maintain it a little. Depending on your particular choice of pile, bin or container will reduce or increase the amount of maintenance it will need. A pile requires little maintenance, with just the occasional turning about once a week to improve the air circulation. Airing your pile will increase the decomposition process and is integral to the overall health of your compost. The bacteria and organisms that produce humus need air to live. The best way to turn and air your pile is done with a pitch fork.

When Is Your Compost Ready?

After a few months, you’ll want to know if your compost is ready. Humus looks like very dark soil and smells earthy. Now you are ready to use it in your garden to nourish your plants. There isn’t one single way to compost so whatever route you take, you can and will generate compost for your garden. With so many different options, you are sure to find the right one for you and your lifestyle and remember that at the end, you not only help to reduce landfill, but also produce humus, often referred to as garden gold.

Go Green with Composting. Learn how to start, what to do and how to fix your composting problems. Discover Vermicomposting and How to do it FREE.

From the best bins available at the best prices to tips and tricks on how to compost in your back yard quickly and effortlessly, visit Composted – Composting Guide

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Practical Compost Making

Posted by admin on September 22, 2010

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.

Compost Ingredients

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.

Compost Tumblers

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]

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