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Compost for Your Organic Garden

Posted by admin on May 19, 2009 under organic garden

Compost is an essential ingredient in any organic garden. Compost is a combination of organic matter that has decomposed until it resembles rich, dark soil. Properly prepared, it is not gross, dirty, or smelly. Compost is a nutritious food for your garden plants and is a must have in your organic garden.

 Compost is also a nutritious soil amendment that helps drainage and helps prevent rot and nutrient delpetion which is common in poor soils. Compost will also help hold moisture and reduces the amount of water that you need to give your garden. Furthermore, many of the components of compost help bind toxic chemicals so they won’t enter the plants root systems.

There are many uses for compost. In the spring and summer, it can be used as mulch. Just spread a thin layer of it around the base of your plants. To improve the soil in your vegetable plot, add a top layer of compost to your soil and and mix it in to the top 3-4 inches of dirt. If you do this, you will need somewhere between 1-2 wheelbarrows of compost for every 50 square feet of garden space. For potted plants, you can top dress plants that are already potted, or you can mix it with soil to make a better potting mix for plants you are getting ready to pot. Compost can also be used to make a compost tea. This is a super, rich liquid fertilizer which can be applied at the base of plants or used as a foliar spray (see how Here).

In today’s world, you can buy almost anything including organic compost. Gardeners Gold Premium Compost (view Here) is an excellent product provided by Gardens Alive. This is rich, nutritious compost made from organic products that have been decomposing for a minimum of two years. But, I only buy compost when I cannot make enough of it for my organic garden. Compost is easy to make and the ingredients are only those things that you would normally throw away.

Compost can be made from anything of living origin – either, plant or animal. When you are making compost, you are creating a miniature eco system that is a host to countless micro organisms known as soil bacteria. This bacterium decomposes the organic matter making it into rich, dark compost.

There are many methods to making compost. The easy way is to make a pile in your yard of various organic substances; add a small amount of soil and water; turn it with a pitch fork every 5-7 days; and’ watch it slowly decompose. But, this is the time consuming way. You have little control over the moisture and heat that builds up inthe pile. There are other methods and tumblers to do this same job much quicker, but, we will discuss these further on in this article.

The organic matter that you make compost out of can be classified as either “soft greens” or “woody browns”. You need both of these to make compost effectively. “Soft greens” are the young, tender, moist materials such as lawn trimmings, kitchen vegetable trimmings, and green leaves from your organic garden. “Woody browns” are drier materials such as autumn leaves, dried vines, and stems of plants, eggshells, toilet paper rolls, and newspaper. Yes, newspaper with black ink can be added, but when you do, be sure to roll the newspaper up. This allows air to penetrate into the pile.

The “soft greens” are really what gets the heat going in the pile. The “woody browns” give your pile air and structure. Your pile should be 3 parts “soft greens” to 1 part “woody browns”. Cut any long stems of large chunks into smaller pieces.

To build your pile, separate the “soft greens” and “woody browns” into layers. On the bottom layer, put about 3 inches of “soft greens”, followed by a layer of 1 inch thick “woody browns”, followed by a thin layer of soil. The soil will allow soil bacteria to get into your pile. Repeat this process as many times as you would like, but, I usually try to keep it under 3 feet in height. If the pile seems dry, add a bit of water. An effective compost pile is about as wet as a well wrung out sponge.

As the pile decomposes, heat will build up in the pile – that’s good! It shows that decomposition is well underway. The heat can build up to 140-160 degrees. While you started off making “lasagna”, after 5-7 days you need to make a “soup” out of it by flipping with a pitch fork. You will continue doing this until your pile has turned into rich compost. It may take 3-4 months in the summer and 6-8 months in the winter. If it is going to rain heavily, cover the pile with a tarp.

For further instruction watch this video:

 

 

So, as you can see from the video, making compost is no rocket science. Composting is using materials that you normally throw away and naturally turning them into  a healthy, organic soil amedment. Your garden will love it!

Making a compost pile in your yard can create somewhat of a mess. It can also temporarily create some unpleasant odors that you or your neighbors may not like. Another method to create compost is to use sealed containers that are specifically designed to make compost. The benefits of these containers are, besides reducing odor and creating less of a mess, that you have greater control over the heat, air, and moisture getting into your compost mixture. By doing this, you can reduce the amount of time it takes to make your compost to just a few weeks. Besides, most of these container systems have mechanisms built in which makes it much easier to flip your compost pile – much of the work is taken out.

I have tried three container systems, but the one I like most is Arbico Organics Tumbleweed Compost Bin (view it Here). The Tumbleweed has a patented, above-ground design. It’s double sided and has a stainless steel bar that runs through the center, helping to break up and aerate with every tumble. With this product, I can make 6-7 cubic feet of compost every four weeks in the summer. Each end of the bin has a twist lock, animal-resistant vented lid – so you can add or remove composting materials from either end. If you are in the market for a compost bin, I recommend this product. View this product on this video:

If you are new to organic gardening or would like to learn more, try either one of these two great eBooks: Organic Gardening Magic and My Organic Food Garden. Or, try them both! Satisfaction Guaranteed for your organic garden, or your maney back.


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