Dogs… Vermin… Smell… These are just a few reasons why many people try to avoid composting and get away with ready-to-use commercially available liquid feeds in their gardens.
However, compost is a vital ingredient in organic gardening.
Composting helps to build healthy soil – the foundation of the food chain. This is the main reason why you can’t ignore composting in your organic garden. By recycling garden waste, such as plant tops, overripe plants, pruned branches and leaves, etc., in the compost heap, you create a fertile substance that sustains the cycle of growth.
Long story short: a compost heap is an anaerobic decomposition of your garden waste, which means oxygen is needed for the composting process. The level of oxygen in your compost heap is maintained by correct mixing of different ingredients with different textures.
Basically, your compost should look like this:
– 50 % of green matter (nitrogen)
– 50 % of dry matter (carbon)
This composition will stop the content from becoming a solid mass and settling down.
You can use either wooden boxes or plastic bins that are available at the gardener centres.
I use three wooden boxes for composting:
- The first is for adding day-to-day material.
- The second is full and in the process of creating the most beneficial compost 🙂
- The third one is ready to use.
Here are some tips for the successful composting:
- Your compost heap is not just a pale of rubbish. It’s a primary ingredient of fertile soil in an organic garden. Remember! If you put rubbish in your compost, the only thing that you will get out of it is rubbish.
- Add material for composting by layers. A layer of green mater (plant tops, flowers, cutting, fruits, vegetables, etc.) and a layer of dry matter (wood ash, shredded paper, etc.).
- Add water occasionally. Your compost shouldn’t be too dry or too wet.
- Never add perennial weeds in your compost. There’s a high risk of spreading them around your garden in the next season.
- Never add plants affected by fungus or pests that lay eggs or pupae, such as leaf miners. These guys can happily live in your compost waiting to attack in the new season when you add compost to your plants.
- Never add cooked food in your compost. It attracts dogs, foxes, rats and vermin.
- Never add autumn leaves, evergreen leaves and branches left after pruning unless they’ve been shredded before. They take a very long time to decay.
- Don’t add fruit peels (such as banana or orange peel) into your compost unless you’re certain that they’re organic. They shouldn’t be in your kitchen at the first place…. but if your non-organic neighbor snuck it there because he was tired of your organic propagation, make sure it doesn’t get into your compost. Peels contain a very high amount of pesticide residue.
- Don’t forget to cover your compost boxes/bins to generate heat and to prevent heat from escaping. It can be anything like a plastic sheet, carpet scrap or wooden lid. A cover will also prevent your compost heap from getting too wet.
- If your compost heap doesn’t warm up, turn it (using a pitchfork) every few weeks to add more oxygen. How long your compost pile will take to turn into ripe compost depends on the temperature maintained in it. Hot turn piles are normally ready in 20 days, whether as no turn piles can take up to 12 months to ripe.
Little helpers like worms and black soldier fly can also make the process of composting very quick and easy. I will write about these guys in one of my future posts.
If your garden is not very big, you can also use compost tumblers found at gardener centers. They speed up composting process and look very neat.
Whether you use boxes, bins and tumblers, you have to make sure, that only good organic stuff gets into your compost.
Happy composting! 🙂