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Gardening

Composting

 

Dean Johnson filling composte binCompost is a rich dark organic material that is formed as other types of organic matter decompose.

Composting is a great way to use your organic waste to improve your soil and gardening. Here are some of the ways that compost can be used:

  • To aerate soils containing too much clay or sand.
  • To supplement nutrients to soil for planting.
    As a mulch, to keep plants cool and moist through hot summers.
  • To replace nutrients that gardening takes out of the soil.
    Fall is usually the best to start a compost bin because you have a lot organic debris around like leaves and leftovers from your garden. Here's how to go about making your own compost.

 

Materials You'll Need

compost binYou can buy a compost bin or make one from just about any material. Some type of wire fencing, concrete blocks or bricks work best. If you use wood, be sure it's something that will resist decay.

Keep your compost container in a shady place, because composting does build up heat. It should also be somewhere that's pretty level and has good drainage.

And for convenience, it's nice if your compost site is near a water source and your garden.

 

The organic matter you need for composting can be any type of plant material like grass clippings, leaves, weeds, rotten vegetables from the garden, table scraps, sawdust, etc.

You can't put whole branches into the compost bin, but you can grind them up if you have access to a chipper.

To help speed up the composting process you can buy what's known as an inoculant. This has bacteria and enzymes that get the composting process started. Fertilizer also works.

 

Building a Pile

building up compost pileFirst, build up a 6-12 inch layer using your organic material.

Then add your inoculant or regular fertilizer to act as a catalyst and speed up the process a bit.

Water this layer so it's completely moist. Repeat this layering process until you get to the top or at the desired height. Keep the pile moist and stir it every week or so to keep the air circulating.

completed compostOxygen is required for the bacteria to decompose, so the more often you turn your heap, the faster you'll have compost.

In a couple months, you'll have compost ready for the garden. You can tell it's done when it has a uniform dark brown color and crumbles easily.

If you don't need the compost until next spring, only turn it every couple of months and the process will slow down.

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