In “how to make compost” I will delve into the advantages of composting as well as the proper way to compost, what to use and what not to use.
Composting is both easy and very very smart from a financial point of view as well as a plant healthy point of view.
Making your own compost from materials that you most likely already have and will be disposing of anyway can save you a pretty good lump of money considering commercial fertilizers are not exacly cheap.
Another advantage is that plants love homemade compost and why not make your vegetable plants happy if you have the means to do so.
Composting is simply placing certain naturally biodegradable items together in such a way as to allow it to decompose, rot, and turn itself back into a soil like substance rich in nutrients that plants need in order to grow and be healthy.
What Items Can be Composted?
There are certain things that can be used and some that should not.. of the things that can be used there are some that work better than others and some of the “hotter” acting ingredients are known as activators.
- Young weeds (before going to seed)
- Pigeon and chicken manure
- Grass clippings
- Wood ashes
- Paper towels/bags
- Cardboard rolls/tubes
- Egg cartons (the paper kind)
- Tea/coffee grounds
The Slower Acting Ingredients
- Fall leaves
- Tough hedge clippings
- Woody prunings
- Wood shavings
Stuff You Should Avoid Composting
- Cooked food
- Coal ash
- Cat litter
- Dog feces
- Glossy magazine pages
How to Actually Make Compost
There are many methods for making compost with some of them taking up to a year or more with very little maintenance or care and then other methods which require a little maintenance but can produce rich compost perfect for the garden in 3 months or less.
The only one I am going to cover is the hot compost method which in my opinion is the best way to do it and really if you do not have time to turn the pile once a week then composting may not be for you.
Gather together all of your grass clipping, vegetable scraps, young weeds, and compostable manure, etc. into the pile, compost bin or container making sure you have a decent balance of soft and tough materials if possible.
If you have some really tough pieces then use garden shears to break it up into smaller pieces.
Water the compost pile as you add it to your container or bin.. you want it to be wet but not overly soggy.
Within just a few days the compost bin or container or container will be hot to the touch and will remain so for several days. Leave it alone until it begins to cool down.
Once it cools down it needs to be turned or mixed up again trying to get the outside stuff to the inside of the pile so it can heat up and cook again.
If the pile is dry just add some water.. if it gets too soggy just add some dry materials to balance things out a bit.
This process of heating up and cooling down will happen several times with it being less and less active each time. Once the compost stops heating up and further, it is almost ready for the garden.. let it sit for a couple of months to finish the process and it can then be used in the place of fertilizer.
When the compost is ready, it will have taken on a dark brown color like rich dirt and will have a earth smell.
Some Last Words About Composting..
Here are a few last minute tips to help you be successful in learning how to make compost:
- Be very careful in adding weeds to the compost pile.. use young weeds only that have not gone to seed yet. A good rule of thumb is “when in doubt, leave it out”.
- When adding hedge clippings or twigs to the pile it is best to try and chop/shred them up a little first to speed up the breakdown of these tougher materials.
- If you have diseased plants, it is best to leave them out of the compost pile since the pile may not heat up enough to destroy the disease and cause you a nightmare later.. once again, “when in doubt, leave it out”.
- You do not have to use a bin or container for composting.. you can just make a pile, however, a bin will make it easier to contain, make it look better and be a lot cleaner all around.
Hope this helps some of you get on the road to composting.. if you have tips on composting, please send them to me.