Basics of Home Composting-
The Basics of Home Composting:
Composting is a natural process in which microorganisms break down organic materials such as leaves, grass and vegetable scraps to form a rich, soil-like substance.
* Organic Materials - A good mix consists of two parts "browns" materials such dead leaves that are high in carbon and one part "greens" such as fresh grass clippings, and garden prunings that are high in nitrogen.
* Moisture - Composting materials should feel moist but not overly soggy.
* Temperature - Compost should feel warm to the touch except in cold winter months.
* Air - When materials decompose without oxygen, they can create unpleasant odors. Turn compost regularly to ensure that air reaches the center of the pile. This is easy with a shovel, a rake or a tumbler.
sawdust (untreated wood)
kitchen scraps (non-meat, non-dairy, non-fat)
pond algae & seaweed
commercial compost starters
Diseased plants and leaves
Plants that have gone to seed
Persistent Weeds (poison ivy, blindweed, quackgrass, multi-flora rose)
Meat, dairy, products with kitchen vegetables with animal fats
Pet doo doo
Map out a 4'X4'X4' area out of direct sunlight is an ideal spot for a compost pile. I used an area where the trees had been trimmed up in the back of the yard. Make sure that the spot you choose is easily accessible- a spot on a grass or soil base. Composting can begin any time of the year, but many people start in the fall, when leaves are abundant. Mix the ingredients, adding water as needed. Materials should feel a damp as a wrung-out sponge.
The pile should be turned after a few weeks so that outside materials are exchanged with the materials from the center of the pile. Turn ther compost pile about once a month, except in cold winter conditions.
If more water is needed, it can be added during turning.
1. Mulch or top dressing for planted areas
2. A soil amendment prior to top-planting
3. Potting soil additive--my flowers never looked better--my compost was fantastic
Compost is ready for use when it looks dark and crumbly and none of the starting ingredients are visible.
One way to test if compost is finished it to seal a small sample in a plastic bage for 24 to 48 hours. If no strong odors are released when you open the bag, the compost is done.
As a soil amendment, compost increases water retention and adds nutrients. Work it into the top 6" of the soil. Compost also can applied as a mulch directly around the base of trees and shrubs.
Compost Trouble Shooting
Too wet--Turn, add dry material, cover compost
Dry--Turn, water, shade compost
Cool to the touch--Turn, add greens
Too warm to the touch--Turn add soil or browns,water
Strong odors--Turn, add soil and browns
Have fun-- the results are worth the effort and it is really easy--enjoy.
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