Composting Tips

Compost Tips

Composting will provide you with the best organic fertilizer possible. You will give your plants an ideal mix of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and a concoction of rich synergistic nutrients that your plants will thrive on. It is the best fertilizer you can provide your plants. And if you are striving for an organic garden, it is almost impossible to improve upon. Beginning composting is easy.

Composting, the Organic Fertilizer

Composting can be easy or difficult, slow or fast(ish). Decomposition is much like any other fermentation. Different in that the home composter rarely has exactly the same materials to work with from batch to batch, does not need to control the purity and nature of the organisms that will do the actual work of humus formation, and has a broad selection of materials that can go into a batch of compost.

Your plants will love any plant material you can add. Most plants will, within broad limits, happily tolerate wide variations in compost quality without complaint. Almost without fail your plants will show their appreciation for the organic fertilizer you have labored over throughout their growing season.

Some people who compost are very fussy and much like fine bakers or skilled brewers, take great pains to produce a material exactly to their liking by using complex methods. But, always this organic fertilizer with the natural nitrogen, phosophorus and potassium and the multitude of unknown and nutrients are a wonderful addition to any plant and garden.

According to Science Direct, composting is one of the oldest and simplest methods of organic waste stablization. It is a self-heating biological conversion, which generates suitable end products. This process also sanitizes the compost.

Medicinal Garden Seeds

1. Choose Composting Method

There are numerous ways of composting that produce a product that will add rich nutrients to your garden. The simpler methods require less work, but take considerably more time to decompose.

  • One unique method suited to handling kitchen garbage—vermicomposting (worms)– can work well for those with minimal or no backyard. Perfect for the ecologically concerned apartment dweller with a few house plants.
  • Then, we have the more common methods of simply allowing the plant material to break down with minimal effort on our part.
  • The home gardener can fasten this process buy manually breaking down the waste which we will outline below.

2. Composting Techniques

Having composted for well over 20 years, I’ve tried many methods of composting. Power chipper/shredders, home-made bins, chicken wire, plastic store bought bins and crude heaps, they’ve all been fair game; I’ve sheet composted, mulched, and used green manure from different animals. Ongoing turning of vegetable matter can be a back breaking task, but over time have discovered investing in a small home chipper/shredder method is less taxing physically, much faster at breaking down the matter and greatly speeds up the decomposition process.

Like many people, my first composting efforts were on a smaller lot where maintaining a tidy appearance was a necessary concern. Now, in a suburban neighborhood, with a little more space, the shredder and chipper have become invaluable tools.

Grow These Medicinal Flowers in Your Own Backyard

3. Consider Composting Tools

Today there are certain tools that help create an efficient system that produces beautiful earthy compost in the fastest time

  • 2 compost bins – constantly being rotated. One for new matter, the other cooking/ decomposing.
  • Thermometer – 3 foot to reach deep into the compost pile
  • Turning fork, spiral type
  • Chipper and leaf shredder – or large garden scissors
  • Water as needed
  • Occasional – organic manures, alfalfa meal, wood shavings
  • Your Time -shred/cut into smaller pieces if you want to speed up the process
composting tips

4. Add Compost Ingredients

When composting, it’s important to adapt to your growing conditions. Adapt your composting routine to your climate and environment. If you live in a warmer climate you can enjoy year-round gardening, composting is a year-round and constant activity – and it does require perseverance.

Small branches, stalks, twigs, vegetable trimmings, leaves, manures, kitchen waste. My favorite items, rich in nitrogen and other nutrients are the stalks of various members of the cruciferous family including broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprout that usually over winter locally. These vegetables usually go to flower by April. Many remain in the ground well beyond initial bloom because they are wonderful pollinator attractors i.e. they bring an abundance of bees and butterflies. By composting time these plants can be over 6ft tall.

Mediterranean gardening in your own backyard

Continue Adding to Compost Bin

These plants are easy to cut or simply let nature take care of it. But, having a chipper will allow you to turn the cruciferous plants into something that resembles coleslaw, and you could almost eat it!

As plant matter is acquired it is shredded then placed into the ‘working bin’. Our household generates considerable plant matter, both from the garden and the kitchen. Daily kitchen waste (fruit and veg only) is added to the center and stirred in immediately. This reduces the putrid smells and flies!

Remember what you add to your compost will reduce considerably, maybe 50%. Always add more than you think. It will quickly breakdown and the bulk will reduce dramatically.

Growing Beetroot

4. Get Your Compost HOT

The thermometer is a much used tool in “working bin’. It tells you when it is time to stir which is usually when the temperature returns to the outside temperature. Getting the bin to 140 degrees, which happens almost year round, always bring excitement. It’s nature at work.

To reach these high temperatures you need to balance the carbon and nitrogen. This will vary greatly depending on where you live and what plant matter you have available. Also important is to turn the outer corners into the center so the entire bin is well rotated.

Turning compost can be an impossible, sweat-drenching, back-wrenching chore, or it can be relatively quick and easy. This is where a chipper and/or shredder can be very useful. The smaller the matter the easier it is to turn. Also, the turning spiral fork can be much easier to use than a hay fork if you are working with smaller plant matter.

Use Your Thermometer

Get your thermometer in your bin. When you see the temperature drop it is time to turn, or add more nitrogen. As you become more experienced you will discover what and how much green and brown you need to get the pile hot. Seeing steam arising from the pile in mid-winter or mid-summer is always a joy.

With each turn of the pile, it is watered with a fine mist. This turning is much easier if you have smaller vegetable matter. The chunks that remain as visible entities are again turned into the new pile’s center; most of the bigger and less-decomposed matter comes from the outside of the old heap.

5. Spread Your Black Gold Compost

In the warmer months the bins can be finished cooking within 6 weeks. Nature at its best. The bins have been turned, watered and now have that wonderful earthy fragrance. The bins are looking and smelling wonderful. They are filled with crumbly dark brown or black soil and its origins are not recognizable. The compost pile has been reduced by 50% or more.

When the ‘working bin’ is ready you can spread the ‘completed bin’ around the yard. But first give it one final stir. Within 6-10 weeks you can have your own black gold. Always leave 2-10 gallons in the bottom as the starter for your next batch, depending on the size of your bin.

Compost and Neighbors

This method works well in most suburban backyards. You can keep the compost bins out of site or at least not draw attention and there is minimal odor when the pile is cooking. It does require some effort, but it is well worth it and your plants will show their thanks for it.

There are many compost methods that you can experiment with. There could be a small backyard method, the fast method, the apartment method, the wintertime method. An understanding of basics will enable you to experiment with your own available material and create the best compost organic fertilizer for your garden.

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