Secrets to the perfect compost
Composting is a great way to produce mineral rich soil, or “Black Gold” for your organic garden. Decomposed organic matter has been used for centuries by farmers trying to achieve a better, healthier crop without the use of synthetic fertilizers.
Some people think its not possible to really mess up your compost. The truth of the matter is, although composting is fairly simple, there are a few things you can do to make sure your new compost pile is off to a good start. For example, using the right variety of organic material can insure the proper nutrient balance, without increased risk of pests. Here are a few great tips anyone can follow.
Best time of year to start a compost pile
You may have heard others recommend starting your pile in the spring, other may say early fall. The truth is that any time is a good time. It depends on your schedule, what you have available to you and when you need the compost ready. There are a couple of reasons to choice one season over the other, lets review them.
The Spring is a great time to start composting. You can begin to add grass clipping as well as pruning from your current garden. The warmer weather will also help break down the material at a fast rate. It is important to also monitor your pile during a hot summer to be sure it’s retaining its moisture.
The early fall is also a good time. The fall provides can provide plenty of material for your compost. From the remains of your previous garden to the falling leaves. The cooler weather and wet weather will assure your composite pile will stay active. If you are concerned with the temperature over the winter months, don’t be. If your compost pile is large enough, it will produce heat, keeping active under the snow.
Use Leaves and Grass Cutting
Mother nature will provide the bulk of material needed. Leaves and grass clippings are great for adding volume to your pile. Applying clippings in a layer will also lock in moisture and heat. It’s also important to know how much to lay at a time. If leaves or grass clippings are in layers that are too think, you may actually slow down the composting process.
Store extra leaves and grass clippings in a separate bin or container. Apply little at a time to cover or mix with any new material. Composting produces gases that need to be released and exchanged. Think layers of grass can restrict the exchange of these gases.
You shouldn’t put much restriction on the types of material you add to your compost pile/bin. The only restriction is non-organics, metals, plastics, glass, etc.. As a rule of thumb, if it rots or decomposes, its OK to use. A common question most people have when starting a new compost pile is can meats or egg shells be added. the answer is yes.
Added animal material to a compost pile is OK and wont degrade the quality of the compost. The only possible caution is with using too much proteins. This is only because it may attract pests or scavengers, otherwise it’s not an issue.
What to do with branches
You maybe wondering if its OK to add branches and twigs to your compose. Yes you can, but it is best in small pieces. Large branches that are left whole for example will take a long time to decompose. This can hinder your overall pile. When possible chop up branches and twigs before adding them.
Adding fertilizer: You may decide to add fertilizer to your compost pile in order to speed up the process. An inexpensive nitrogen can be sprinkled in lightly, between layers. For example, ammonium nitrate or sulfate can be added. If you happen to own livestock, manure can also be added in layers.
Pet Feces: Although livestock manure is suggested, it is not the same as pet feces. It is possible to transmit disease and should be avoided.
Top with Leaves: You can avoid pests by topping your pile with dry leaves. This will act as a deterrent and help prevent possible pest problems.
Insects: Insects that are commonly found in compost will not harm your pile. These insects will usually help the decomposing.
Oder: Compost pile will produce oder, this is normal. It is the release of gas that occurs when organic matter decomposes. For this reason its better to keep your compost a distance from your home.
When to turn over your compost: Generally, once every 2 months is fine. There really is no set time limit, you should use your judgment. Most people believe that compost must be turned over on schedule, but that is most likely false, unless to control temperature. Turning to often will stunt the composting process, its better to turn less than more.