As a home vegetable gardener, composting is a essential part to nurturing your plants, as well as the soil they inhabit. Adding good quality compost to your soil helps with the drainage of waste materials, while also increasing nutrients in the soil. Along with the benefits to your soil, you are also preventing organic material from ending up in a landfill. The problem is, how do you create a usable, quality compost area?
In order to start your compost pile, you are going to need organic material. Organic material can be grass clippings, leaves, left-over food, coffee grounds, banana peels and so on. Plastic, styrofoam and meat bones are NOT considered organic material for the compost pile.
Set aside an area of your yard where you will dump all of these items into. To make a really cool pile, use a wood box build into the ground; it can be your designated compost pile! As a precaution, when it comes to left-over food, bury it. It could easily draw in unwanted animals like raccoons, opossums, pests, you name it.
Once you have your pile of organic material in place you are all set. Nature will take care of the rest! Bacteria, insects and worms will work hard together to break your pile down into usable compost. If time is not a factor, then you can literally let the pile sit there, and it will eventually break down. However, this can be slow, so here are some things you can do to help speed things up.
Using a yard shredder, chipper or your lawn mower, you can break down larger items in very small pieces. The smaller the pieces, the quicker they will break down.
You should be keeping your compost pile moist. Do not over-water your compost pile, as items in the pile will get matted down. That will prohibit oxygen from reaching deep areas of your compost pile. As anaerobic bacteria takes over, a smell of rotting compost will emanate. A light watering every other day (or more often if it gets hot/dry outside) will do the trick.
Turning the Compost
A good practice beneficial to compost is turning the pile over. A pitchfork is all you will need to do this. Every few days, use the pitchfork to turn the entire pile over; by bringing the waste from the bottom to the top of the pile, oxygen will reach all parts of the pile. By doing this, anaerobic bateria will not make your compost smell horrid. For optimal results, turn the pile over when the center of the compost pile reaches 140 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit--You can pick up a compost pile thermometer for a few bucks.
Finally, remember to keep your compost pile well ventilated. The more air that reaches through the pile, the more efficient your compost pile will be.
-The Blue Valley Post. Made for you.
This article was originally written by Michael Podlesny of Article City for reprint.