Learn How To Compost

by Andrea Greengard

Want to learn how to compost? To gardeners, compost is considered “black gold” because of its many benefits in the garden. Homemade versions are invaluable in the garden – by adding organic matter to the soil, compost can help improve plant growth and health.

How to Compost

Learn how to compost
Learn how to compost

To make good compost, you need a 50:50 mix of materials that are rich in nitrogen and carbon. Nitrogen comes from lush green material such as grass clippings whereas Carbon comes from brown material, such as woody stems and cardboard. For every bucket load of green material, you need to add the same volume of brown. Shredding, chopping or mowing these materials into smaller pieces will help speed the composting process by increasing the surface area.

Things You’ll Need to make your own compost are:

  • A sunny corner of the garden
  • An equal mix of nitrogen- and carbon-rich waste
  • And a Compost bin

Compost Instructions:

  1. Stand your compost bin directly on the soil – worms and other micro-organisms will speed up the process.
  2. Find out whichbin is best for you.
  3. Chicken wire at the base will keep rodents out.
  4. Add an equal mix of green and brown materials

Nitrogen-rich waste or greens includes:

  • Grass-clippings
  • Annual-weeds
  • Fruit and veg peelings
  • Nettle leaves
  • Teabags

Carbon-rich waste or browns includes: 

  • Dried-leaves
  • Paper or newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Straw
  • Egg boxes and empty toilet-rolls 
  • Paper towels
  • Paper bag

DO IT FASTER

Speed up the process by turning your heap occasionally with a garden fork to aerate it, mixing the outside ingredients to the inside. When turning the compost-pile, make sure that materials in the center are brought to the outsides, and that materials from the outside edges are brought to the center.

Waiting at least two weeks allows the center of the pile to heat up and promotes maximum bacterial-activity. The average gardener turns the pile every 3-4 weeks.

Keep it WET

Moisture is important to support the process. It should be comparable to the wetness of a wrung-out sponge. If the pile is too dry, materials will decompose very slowly. Add water during dry periods or when adding large amounts of brown organic material.

If the pile is too wet, turn the pile and mix the materials. Another option is to add dry, brown organic materials. Bacteria and other microorganisms are the real workers in the compost process. By supplying organic materials, water, and oxygen, the already present bacteria will break-down the plant material into useful compost for the garden.

As the bacteria decompose the materials, they release heat, which is concentrated in the center of the pile. You may also add layers of soil or finished compost to supply more bacteria and speed the process.

How long does it take?

The amount of time needed to produce compost depends on several factors, including the size of the -pile, the types of materials, the surface area of the materials, and the number of times the pile is turned. A pile that is between 3-feet cubed and 5 feet cubed can be ready in about 4-months, depending on the time of year.

Video by Natural Ways.

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