Rose Magazine, Rose Picture
Compost Mixed With Soil



     Shredded organic materials heat up quicker and decompose faster. The organisms that break down organic materials need oxygen to live and reproduce, so it makes sense that the smaller the organic materials are the more they are exposed to oxygen, and consequently the quicker they break down and are decomposed. Even a pile as small as 3 square feet will be effective in rewarding you with wonderful compost for your garden.

     Whatever ingredients you choose to use in your pile remember to have a variety if possible. A more varied pile is likely to decompose quicker and maintain a higher internal temperature. As your pile starts to grow, turn it twice a week with a pitchfork and keep it damp but not wet. Turning the pile will aerate it and also move less decomposed matter into the center. As organisms start to break down all the layers, you will notice that the center of the pile becomes very hot. This is a sign that your compost is working!

     Finished compost is not soil but it is one of the most important ingredients to healthy soil. Add finished compost to your garden soil and work it in before you begin planting in the spring. Compost should never smell bad if you just follow a few simple rules. If you find that your compost pile has an unpleasant odor it is probably because of lack of air or an overabundance of nitrogen rich materials. First of all, make sure your pile receives at least a half-day of sunshine. The second thing would be to make sure you have the right mixture of ingredients to make your compost do the job its supposed to do, which is break down organic material into available nutrients for your garden. The third most important thing is to maintain moisture in your compost pile

     Ideally you should begin your compost pile by layering the organic materials. Be careful not to overuse any one particular ingredient as it may upset the balance that is needed to help the compost break down more quickly. Try and add green (nitrogen) and brown (carbon) matter in alternating layers. Anything dry is considered brown and anything wet like vegetable peelings and fresh mown grass is considered green.

     The simplest method for the home composter is to use roughly equal portions of carbon and nitrogen materials. Introducing air into your compost pile is very important as the more air you put in contact with the materials the more you stimulate microbial activity. Water is also essential in the composting process. Effective compost should be as damp as a wrung out sponge. Too much water will force the air out of the pile and cause it to smell and too little water will slow down the decomposition process. Test your pile by tightly squeezing a handful; if water comes out it is too wet

     A lot of home gardeners are concerned about the “perfect” mix or recipe for making effective compost. Don’t worry. Whether you arrange your pile in precise layers of nitrogen and carbon and turn it every day or whether you just throw in whatever you have and let it sit until it rots; either way the end result will be compost.

     It really all depends on how involved you wish to be and how quickly you want to use your compost. If you want your pile to decay quickly then you must take the time to chop up large fibrous materials and woody stalks and branches. Turn the pile and add carbon rich materials. As well it is a good idea to add a layer of soil over kitchen wastes so as not to attract flies and other animals. You will know that your compost is done when it becomes dark brown or black and resembles commercial potting soil, just lumpier. Keep your finished compost covered so it is not exposed to rain or snow or it will lose many of its nutrients. The outer portions of your pile that have not fully decomposed can be added to the next pile as a starter mix.

     Making compost is one of the most rewarding and satisfying activities a home gardener can be involved in. You are nurturing and enriching your soil and at the same time responsibly recycling your own home wastes. No wonder organic methods of cultivation, including composting have become so popular.

Composting is truly BLACK GOLD for your garden!

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