How to Make Your Own Compost
Compost is the best natural fertilizer you can use. And you can make it yourself with a little effort. Compost consists of decaying organic material. Things like leaves, grass, decomposable kitchen scraps, even hair clippings can be used to make compost. Since everything that is in compost started in nature, there are no harmful chemicals to destroy the ground water. Your vegetables will taste better, and your flowers will grow bigger and be brighter. An added advantage is that you are recycling waste in an easy to do manner.These materials are layered in a container (or pile) with soil and manure or a high-nitrogen fertilizer.
- Start with a layer of dry "brown" materials, like wood chips, dried leaves, sawdust, paper or straw.
- Add a layer of moist "green" materials, such as grass cuttings, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells, dead flowers, or prunings from your garden.
How does it work:
Composting occurs when heat causes bacteria to be produced that "eat" the raw materials, and regurgitate the broken down mass known as compost. A completely broken down pile will be about 1/3 the size you started with. For the process to work, you need to layer the materials, to allow for some air to get in, and you must also add SOME water so that the bacteria can thrive.
The ideal Compost Bin is located:
- in a sunny or semi-shaded position
- directly on the soil or turf
How to Start:
- Keep adding layers, alternating "green" & "brown" materials with a layer of soil and manure.
- The mixture should be kept warm and wet (water with a hose once a week to keep entire mixture moist), and aerated (it's got to breathe!).It will need to be turned, or mixed, every week or so.
- Add chicken manure or bone meal (for nitrogen) if your compost isn't decaying.
- After 2-3 months, the compost will be ready to use in your garden! Your compost is ready when it is dark and crumbly and looks like soil.
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What can i put in my compost:
Kitchen scraps such as coffee grounds, eggshells and fruit and vegetable scraps; grass clippings; hay or straw; leaves (dry or fresh); manure (NO pet feces!); untreated wood chips or sawdust; shredded paper (newspaper, cardboard, etc.); wood ashes (The ash is literally "potash" a necessary nutrient.); garden trimmings (NO weeds that have gone to seed)
Things NOT to use: ashes from the barbeque, animal by-products (meat scraps, grease, bones), milk or dairy products, dog or cat droppings, cardboard, diseased plants.
Speed up your Compost with this Natural Activator:
- 1 Cup Blood Meal.
- 1 Cup Bone Meal.
- 1 Cup Wood or charcoal ashes.
Sprinkle the mix on top of the pile and mix the compost well. Next add 1 cup ammonia (source of nitrogen) and mix again. Mix every day, and lightly water twice a week. In 3 weeks check the pile. If it is cooling down, and it's about 1/3 the mass you put in, it's done. If not, turn for another week.
How to Use:
Compost can be ready in as little as six to eight weeks, but most likely it will take a year or more. In general, the more effort you put in, the quicker you will get compost. When the ingredients start to turn dark brown and it has an earthy smelling material, the compost is done. It is then best left for a month or two to 'mature' before it is used. Mix compost into soil around existing plants once or twice a year. Prepare new planting areas by working liberally into soil. Spread around the base of shrubs and flowers as mulch. Although compost can be made in an open pile, you'll get faster results if you use a bin.
How good is Compost?
The homemade compost usually has an NPK of 5-5-5, and it's all organic. NPK stands for Nitrogen (N) Phosphorus (P) and Potassium or Potash (K) and is the basics for all gardening. Nitrogen promotes green leaves, phosphorus helps the roots, and potassium helps in the blooms or vegetables. Using organic compost, you will notice a definite IMPROVED difference in the taste of your vegetables or in the blooms of your flowers.