Compost is created from organic matter like leaves, fruit and vegetable scraps, cardboard, and more. It is used to help nourish the soil and nurture your growing garden. Organic compost represents an inexpensive way to fertilize your soil and to maintain the health of your plants. It’s also a great way to recycle your yard and kitchen waste. Here’s what you need to know about making your own organic compost:
Benefits of Composting
There are a number of benefits to creating your own compost. Composting does the following:
- Improves soil fertility
- Helps soil retain water
- Loosens hard clay
- Stimulates root development
- Promotes healthy soil composition
- Protects against fungi and garden pests
- Aids in removal of toxins from soil
- Provides nutrients to plants
- Helps prevent soil erosion
In addition to these numerous benefits for your garden, making your own compost is also healthy for the environment, as it can be used in place of harmful chemicals and pesticides. It also allows you to recycle a number of waste products that could end up in the landfill, including cardboard, newspapers, yard clippings, and kitchen waste.
What You Need
Composting does not require expensive materials or equipment. The basic tools that you will need include a compost bin (which can be purchased or made), an aerator, and a thermometer. You can purchase a specially made compost bin, or you can use a large cardboard box, a wooden crate, a large barrel, or a mesh enclosure. You can also purchase a specially made compost aerator, or you can simply use a shovel or pitchfork to turn your compost pile. No other special equipment is needed.
Getting started composting is as easy as gathering up your waste materials. Compost requires a healthy mixture of “greens” — grass clippings, fruit and vegetable waste, fresh leaves — and “browns” — cardboard, newspaper, fallen leaves, straw, wood chips. The green materials are rich in nitrogen, and the brown materials are rich in carbon. You need a healthy mix of both kinds of ingredients in order to activate the composting process. Other items that can be included in your compost pile include egg shells, manure, worms, and soil. You should not include meat scraps or animal fats in your compost pile, as they will attract pests. Make sure that your materials are all free of chemicals and pesticides.
Creating Your Compost
Once you have all your materials ready, combine them in a large pile in your compost bin. Mix the ingredients thoroughly and add enough water to moisten them. Do not over water your compost, as too much water will cause the materials to rot and stink. Your pile should be damp, but not wet. Leave your pile to sit for a couple days, then mix the pile and add more waste to it every day after that.
If you have the proper mix of materials, your compost should heat to between 120 and 150 degrees, which will activate the decomposition process. However, you may choose to place your compost heap in a sunny area to help keep it warm. Be sure to keep your compost pile moist, as well. If it dries out, the composting process will stop.
Your compost will be ready after several weeks. You will know that it is ready when it is a rich, brown color and you can no longer identify the ingredients. It will smell earthy and sweet. It should not smell. You can then add your compost to your garden soil to prepare it for growing or to nurture your planted crops.
Composting is a relatively easy process that has many benefits for your home garden. Follow these basic tips to create a healthy compost that can nurture your crops and help you to reduce waste in your home. You may have to try a few batches before you get one that is just right, but once you succeed, you will have a powerful, organic fertilizer for your soil and your crops.
About the Author:
Bridget Sandorford is a grant researcher and writer for CulinarySchools.org. Along with her passion for whipping up recipes that incorporate “superfoods”, she recently finished research on culinary schools in nc and culinary schools in indiana.