Composting is easy
Compost is an amazing waste management solution. In what other cases can we take what is considered rubbish: banana peels, apple bits, fallen leaves, weeds, bedding for pets - and turn this into something useful that can transform our garden and beds? This is truly amazing! And although there are several rules for making compost, do not hesitate, you will not have any difficulties with their implementation. And even if you make some "mistakes" - compost will still work.
- Box, heap or toggle switch-composter?
- What to compost?
- How to keep the compost heap or box in proper condition?
- Using Your Compost
Box, heap or toggle switch-composter?
The first thing you should decide on is what your compost will be stored in. Much depends on the characteristics of your garden and on what, in your opinion, is best suited in size, as well as from an aesthetic point of view. For a large garden, you will most likely need at least one large pile, while for a small garden you can use a small toggle composter or other compact composting solution. In general, several factors must be considered:
- How much garbage will you compost? If you have at your disposal a large garden and courtyard that produce a huge amount of organic waste (mowed grass, leaves, tree branches, and so on), then you need a sufficiently large capacity for their processing. If your yard primarily produces only wilted flowers and weeds, and you have a relatively small lawn (or you use a composting lawn mower), then it is better to give preference to a more compact box, bucket or toggle switch.
- The aesthetic side of the issue. You may not want the compost heap looming before your eyes. Why not place the compost bin behind a garage or other building? If you can’t do this, and you still don’t like the view of the compost heap without a container, you can buy a special box or protect the compost zone with some kind of decorative device.
- How large can you mix compost? To make compost and speed up the decomposition of organic waste, you need to mix them periodically. If this is difficult for you, give preference to the toggle switch (composter), a special box with the possibility of convenient mixing, or opt for composting with worms.
Whatever you choose, the compost area should be placed so that you can easily access it. It is highly desirable that it be located in a place with periodic natural light (the more sunlight that gets on the compost, the faster the decomposition of the compost will occur).
What to compost?
In fact, it can be any plant material. If something was once a plant, then it is suitable for composting. And this automatically excludes from consideration meat, bones and dairy products that cannot be added to compost under any circumstances. They may contain bacteria and contribute to the spread of pests.
All ingredients that can potentially be composted are divided into two groups: “green” and “brown”. Greens are rich in nitrogen, contain more moisture and decompose faster. Browns are saturated with carbon, contain less moisture and decompose slowly.
Greens are vegetable waste, mowed grass, weeds, coffee grounds, dung and eggshells.
“Brown” means fallen leaves, straw, shredded newspapers, toilet paper cartridges, branches and sawdust.
In theory, these two types of waste should be placed in a compost heap in layers (as is often shown in journal articles). But hardly anyone has at their disposal a mountain of fallen leaves, mowed grass and vegetable waste, which just lie waiting for them to be stacked in a compost pile in beautiful even layers. A simpler and more rational approach is to add such waste to compost as it emerges and accumulates. In this case, it is necessary to periodically ventilate and mix the compost heap, mixing “green” and “brown” waste with each other.
Regarding the ratio of "green" and "brown"
Oh yes, where do we get from these relationships. If you are obsessed with the idea of getting ready-made compost as quickly as possible, then you need to pay attention to the ratio of “green” and “brown” waste in your compost heap. This ratio should be approximately 30 parts of “brown” color per 1 part of “green”.
The average garden produces much more “green” waste than “brown”. Therefore, if it is not so important for you to make compost in the shortest possible time, then just add vegetable waste to it as they appear. If you find that your compost heap has become too raw and decomposes very slowly, add to it what is rich in carbon: fallen leaves, pieces of torn newspapers. In any case, do not worry - compost will work anyway!
How to keep the compost heap or box in proper condition?
The most important thing in maintaining compost is to systematically mix it and monitor the level of humidity, trying to maintain it at the optimal level.
You can organize the compost mixing in any way convenient for you. If you install a toggle switch (composter), then let it just perform its task and rotate every day - no additional efforts will be required from you in this case.
If your compost is located in a heap or box, you can resort to several methods. For example, you can take a shovel or garden pitchfork about once a week to flip the whole compost pile. This allows you to ventilate the compost and really mixes its contents well. If you have a strong back, and want to get the result faster, then this method will be the best solution for you.
But if the idea of turning over the whole compost pile does not cause you much enthusiasm, you can do without it. Just plug the garden pitchfork into the compost as deep as you can, and then do a few back and forth movements. Due to this, more air will get into the compost, and the process of decomposition of organic waste will accelerate. You will not get compost as quickly as using the previous method, but if you want to maintain a healthy back, this is a perfectly acceptable option.
The second aspect of maintaining compost in proper condition involves maintaining optimum moisture in it. It should be like a squeezed-out sponge: on the one hand, it is definitely wet, but on the other hand, not so that extra liquid can be squeezed out of it. Waterlogged compost will spread an unpleasant odor, and too dry can not decompose.
If you find your compost is too wet, add chopped newspapers or fallen leaves. Such "brown" waste can pick up excess moisture from the heap. For some time, do not add “green” garbage to it: until the humidity comes back to normal. If the reason for the waterlogging of the compost is rain, cover it with a tarp.
If your compost heap becomes too dry, spray it with water using a hose or watering can. You can water the top of the compost so that it seeps in and moistens the contents in the center of the heap.
Using Your Compost
After the compost is ready (it should look and smell like dark, nutrient-rich soil), you can use it in the garden, on the lawn, for plants in pots and tubs, and also as an ingredient in the mixture for planting seeds. To overdo it with compost in your garden is almost impossible, so do not be shy about your easy obsession with it!
Colin Vanderlinden, «How to make compost ».