How to Prepare Garden Compost
Composting is great for the environment and it can be easy to do with the right setup. Compost is created when organic matter reaches a point where it can no longer decompose. At this stage it becomes an extremely nutritious and long-lasting fertilizer. Collect kitchen scraps, old leaves, cardboard, and other suitable ingredients to add to your composting bin, pile, or trench.
Using a Composting Bin
Obtain a simple compost bin.Composting bins are used to collect and store compost ingredients in a secure and sanitary way. Bins can be purchased from a hardware store or online. Bins range in design, size, features, and cost, depending on your personal needs.
- Opt for a model with thick, secure walls that will prevent rodents or other small animals from gaining access to your compost materials.
- Check with your local government office - some have programs that will give or sell you composting bins.
Use a stationary compost bin.Stationery compost bins are enclosed on all sides, have top access, and are open at the bottom, to be placed directly on the soil. Start by adding a few inches of dry, "brown" compost materials, which may include wood chips and shredded newspaper. Place a layer of "green" compost materials on top (e.g., vegetable peelings, grass clippings) and alternate layers of the two types of materials. Don't use any meat, bones, oils, or weeds in your compost.
- Use a pitchfork or other garden tools to rotate the compost materials every week or two to add oxygen and help the composting process.
- Water the compost regularly so it stays moist.
- The process should take a few months and should leave you with a dark, crumbly product that looks and smells like fresh soil.
Buy a compost tumbler.Compost tumblers require less effort than stationary bins and produce compost much more quickly. Add your "brown" and "green" compost materials to the bin and turn it two to four times a week, giving it several good turns each time. Your compost should be ready in approximately a month, depending on the overall volume.
- To speed up the process, place your compost tumbler in a sunny spot.
- Regularly water the compost so it stays moist.
Making a Pile for Composting
Build a base for the compost pile.For a more direct composting option, start building on bare soil to allow organisms like worms to aerate the compost. Collect dry twigs from your yard or buy a bale of straw from your local garden center. Lay out twigs or straw to make a base (a few inches thick) to allow for drainage and air flow.
Add layers of wet compost materials.To build your compost pile, layer moist ingredients like food scraps or vegetable peelings on top of your dry base. Be sure not to add any meat, bones, oils, or weeds. Alternate two or three layers of wet and dry compost materials.
Water the compost pile.Water the compost pile as needed to keep it moist. As a general rule, the materials should be damp and not overly wet. If you live in a rainy climate, cover your compost area with a tarp or plastic sheeting to prevent it from becoming waterlogged.
Cover the compost pile.Covering your compost pile is necessary to retain the moisture and heat need for the composting process. Use plastic sheeting, pieces of wood, or any other suitable covering you have on hand to cover the area. If necessary, weigh down the edges of the covering with large rocks or bricks.
- If you are concerned about the pile being unsightly, fence in the small area that it occupies in your yard.
Turn the compost.Every two or three weeks, use a pitchfork to turn the compost. Uncover the pile and use the pitchfork to dig up materials at the bottom and bring them to the top. Turning the compost will add oxygen to the mix, speeding up the process.
- If you don’t have a pitchfork, use a shovel to turn the compost.
Digging a Composting Trench
Dig a trench.To prepare garden compost without unsightly bins or piles, use a shovel to dig a trench in your garden approximately 12 inches (approximately 30 cm) deep. The compost will add nutrients and moisture to your soil, improving the quality of your plants. Choose an area that will get sunlight but not interfere with the rest of your garden.
- Trenches can be placed between plants, along shrub borders, or virtually anywhere else in the garden.
Fill it with kitchen scraps.Add approximately four to six inches (approximately 10-15 cm)of kitchen scraps to the bottom of the trench. Avoid adding bread products, meat, bones, dairy, rice, oils, or weeds. Opt to include fruit and vegetable scraps, and other ingredients such as:
- Egg shells, which will add calcium to the soil and deter snails and slugs with their sharp edges.
- Coffee grounds, which are rich in nitrogen and attract worms.
Cover the compost materials with soil.Once you've added your composting materials, use a shovel to fill in the trench with soil. The composting process will occur without any additional work from you. It should take a period of a month to a year, depending on the volume and specific compost materials.
Move the trenches around each year.Composting trenches should be moved to different locations in your garden every year. This will allow you to fertilize the entirety of your garden while continuing to grow new plants or flowers. Plan to have designated walking areas, plant areas, and trench areas that you can navigate around comfortably.
QuestionWhat's the difference between compost and manure?
HorticulturistHorticulturistExpert AnswerWhile both compost and manure are used as soil amendments, they are each made from different things. Compost is made from organic plant scraps, and manure is made from animal feces.Thanks!
QuestionIf I make a compost pit in a garden trench, will this area of my garden be a healthy place to plant next spring?
HorticulturistHorticulturistExpert AnswerThis depends on how many food scraps you use and what kind they are. If you bury the trench in early spring, you will likely be able to plant the following spring. An easy way to test if your area is ready to plant is to dig down to the level where the scraps are buried. If the scraps are unrecognizable, then you're ready to plant. If they still look how they did when you buried them, they need more time and maybe more water.Thanks!
QuestionWhere can I find a list of the required materials?Top AnswererAdd any organic materials. The more variety, the better. Add water if the mixture seems really dry. There are commercial preparations available that add microbes which speed up the process of decomposition.Thanks!
QuestionIt is important to make a compost box? Can we simply dig a pit for Composting?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere are many risks to composting pits and they are harder to monitor, compared to having a clean, separate bin in your home. It's also easier to know how many worms you have in your bin, and birds can risk your composting pit's success.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is a compost pit?Top AnswererIt's a hole dug into the ground and filled with organic materials.Thanks!
QuestionDoes agricultural lime aid the decomposing process?Top AnswererNo. It raises the pH level of the compost and the soil it's added to.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is diluted urine?Top AnswererUrine and water.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is pseudomonas?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPseudomonas is a bacteria that helps speed up the decomposition of organic material.Thanks!
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