Composting is the process whereby the natural decomposition of organic matter is accelerated to create a rich growing material compost is a great soil conditioner if you can make it home with waste products from kitchen and garden.
A compost heap will naturally break down the organic materials in it eventually and turn them into useful organic soil fertilizer, rich in organic matter and microorganisms. Making successful compost depends upon getting the ingredient And ratio of them just right.
What to Compost?
All compostable materials are either carbon or nitrogen-based, to varying degrees. The secret to a healthy compost pile is to maintain a working balance between these two elements.
A healthy compost pile should have much more carbon than nitrogen.
Nitrogen or protein-rich matter (animal manures, uncooked food scraps, lawn clippings, and green garden waste) provides necessary material for making enzymes.
carbon -rich matter (like twigs and stems, dried leaves, bits of wood, bark dust or sawdust, paper, corn stalks, coffee filters, conifer needles, egg shells, straw, peat moss, ash) gives compost its light, fluffy body.
For a more complete guide to what you can compost and things you should avoid in your heap follow this link. Compostable materials.
A healthy compost pile should have much more carbon than nitrogen. A simple rule of thumb is to use one-third green and two-thirds brown materials. The bulkiness of the brown materials allows oxygen to penetrate and nourish the organisms that reside there. Too much nitrogen makes for a dense, foul, slowly decomposing anaerobic mass. Good composting hygiene means covering fresh nitrogen-rich materials with carbon-rich material, which often exudes a fresh, wonderful smell. If in doubt, add more carbon!
Besides carbon and nitrogen, the only two other ingredients you need are water and oxygen. If you add these two essential ingredients in the right proportions, you can have an active compost pile that can be ready in as little as four weeks.
To guide you in your watering efforts, make sure that your compost pile doesn’t get overly wet. If you are able to squeeze a little drip of water out of the compost at the center of your pile then you’re right on track.
You’ll know, however, if your pile gets too damp as it will begin to smell. To fix that, simply turn over your oxygen starved pile to aerate things and you’ll be good to go.
Compost just happens but if you wish to speed up the process than try adding any of these activator materials.
#Urine- men’s works better than females. (Different hormones)
#Comfrey leaves- look out for my blog on making a fertilizer from the leaves.
#Grass cuttings- add sparingly in thin layers.
#Seaweed- Check on collecting regulations in certain locations.
#Manure- A little at a time.
#Topsoil- cousins many microorganisms.
#Compost- Add a handful from an old heap. It’s like a starter for microorganisms.
Make a simple pile by fixing up three sides to contain a heap that’s a minimum of three feet high. Recycling old wooden pallets or corregated iron make a great barrier for the heap. The wood also will help to retain heat. It may be worth shredding some of the materials or using a mulches or wood chipper if you are processing large quantities.
To maintain the temperature in a hot compost heap, you need to turn it regularly to aerate it. It hard work but worth it. Covering the heap with black plastic or some old carpet helps retain heart as well. Having two halos allows your to have one coveted and decomposing while you have one open and working.
Using Your Compost
Once you have finished compost (which looks and smells like dark, rich soil) you can use it in your garden, on your lawn, in pots even as an seed-raising mix. You simply cannot add to much compost to your garden, so feel free to go compost-crazy!