Saturday, November 22, 2008

Composting

The definition of compost is a mixture of decaying organic matter, such as leaves and manure, used as fertilizer. Compost is the best fertilizer for organic gardeners, and anyone who wants to improve their soil. Compost helps to break up clay soil, add substance to sandy soil, and enrich loam. We add compost and sand to our heavy clay soil to make it lighter and richer. Here is how I make my compost. There are more scientific methods, but this works well for me. Composting is not a difficult process, but it does take some time. Step one is make your compost pile. Step two, cover it with dirt and let it sit for a few months. Step three is to put it on your garden. Start your compost pile with a layer of dry leaves or straw to permit drainage. Continue with layers of grass clippings, vegetable peelings and dry bread from your kitchen, manure, and more leaves or straw. You can put nearly anything on your compost pile, but do not use meat scraps because they will attract animals. Manure from horses, cows, goats, chickens, or rabbits is fine, but do not use dog, cat, or human waste, and do not put dead animals on your compost pile. They introduce dangerous organisms to your soil. A compost pile can be made inside a small cage or crate, free standing, or in special drums that you can buy. When the pile is two to three feet across and two to three feet high, you cover it with dirt. Now is the waiting period. It takes about three months for the pile to compost, but you can use the rough compost before that for mulch, and it will continue to rot in the soil. During the waiting time, you can occasionally stir your pile, and water it if it seems very dry. When you dig into your compost pile and you can no longer tell what it was, and it smells like earth, it is ready to be put onto your garden. For more information on composting read see these books.
Let It Rot! by Stu Campbell
The Rodale Book Of Composting by Grace Gershung and Deborah L. Martin

2 comments:

Lydia said...

I am reading a book on composting right now called The Complete Guide to Composting. It is a huge book, but I am enjoying it and being inspired. I have a problem with my composting materials coming available in increments so they just all get thrown into a pile as they become available. I am wondering if I should keep my stuff separate until I get a good amount to layer.

Have you tried Vermicompost (earthworm farm)? I am thinking that may be a good option for us in the winter since having to take kitchen scraps outside can be a very cold experience.

Sorry this is my first comment, our computer is having internet difficulties so I have to use Mom's which isn't very often.

Thank you and your sisters for the great b-day gift, I am enjoying it very much!

Much Love

A Garden Girl said...

Thank you for commenting, Lydia! As far as layering in the compost pile, I don't officially do that. It's more all mixed together, although there are some layers. We keep a bucket under the kitchen sink for scraps and dump it on the compost pile when it gets full or when it starts to stink. Some books say to save up your stuff until you have enough to create distinct layers, but as I said, I'm not really scientific about it. I figure the pile is going to rot eventually, and I don't spend any time fussing with it trying to keep it hot.
I have never tried vermicompost, although I've read that worm castings are extremely beneficial to the soil.
~Emily