Composting of Waste
The composting of garden waste is something every committed gardener should consider. The ecological process of rot and decay is the planets own system to clean up the forest floor.
You too can benefit from the dark moist compost which is full of nutrients.
Composting is an excellent way to transform organic waste into a useful nutrient-packed soil improver for healthy plants.
Crop rotation versus fertiliser
Traditionally crop rotation was a successful way of maintaining the nutrient balance of the soil on farmland. Today farmers use fertilisers to replenish the nutrients of the land. The problem with artificially adding Potassium, Phofourous and Nitrogen is that no minerals are included. This can cause farm produce to be mineral deficient. Composted waste includes all three ingredients but also minerals.
What makes good compost?
The art of making great compost is not witchcraft but a mix of good ingredients, oxygen and time.
What to add and what not to add to your compost
Composting ingredients can be split into two categories BROWN and GREEN. This is self-explanatory but I’m going to elaborate anyway.
Brown compost ingredients
Leaves and other brown composting ingredients take longer to decompose but they add more structure to the final compost. Think of brown compost as the BRAN!
- Tea Bags
- Corn Cobs
Green Compost Ingredients
Lush green vegetation is the fastest to decompose and produces the most heat fast.
- Grass Clippings
- Composting Toilet Waste
- Coffee Grounds
- Young Hedge Clippings
- Fruit (excluding Citrus)
- Plant cuttings
Bad compost ingredients
Although most things decay you will not want to add everything to your composter. Do not add:
- Citrus fruits
- Nettle roots
- Perrenial weed roots
- Cat and dog droppings
- Animal produce
How do you speed up composting?
Adding Oxygen into the compost will speed it up but there are other things you can do.
- Comfrey (Green Fertilizer)
- Nettles (Green Fertilizer)
Compost accelerators help break down organic waste and Garotta has a high level of Nitrogen.
The rotting of organic waste is a chemical reaction which is accelerated by the addition of Nitrogen.
Green fertilizers are an ecological way to help compost to break down fast. Comfrey is a perennial plant that fixes nitrogen. Adding Comfrey to the compost heap is a legitimate way to help organic waste to rot down fast.
Stinging nettles are another green fertilizer which is free as they grow almost everywhere. You can add nettles directly to the compost but never the roots.
All the above can help speed up the organic process of breaking down the human waste into reusable compost. You can use this compost as you would any compost as long as you have composted it long enough.
How to build a compost heap?
Building a compost heap is a very simple thing to do. You can just select an area in the garden where you want to pile all your organic waste turning it occasionally. This is fine but there are other ways which can make things easier. There are many products available for composting organic waste from simple compartmental plastic composters to more complicated rotary composters.
Simple container composter
Some of the cheapest composters available are the simple container with a lid and a low access panel.
The rotating composter is a very practical composter which is ideal for smaller gardens. What makes the rotating composter an attractive option is a fact that mixing to introduce oxygen is very easy. You stir the compost by rotating it. This is ideal for the weaker gardener.
The good all DIY composter is still my favourite garden waste composter. A very simple and easy thing to make from old pallets or other scrap wood, corrugated iron or even concrete blocks.
The concrete block composter
Concrete blocks are cheap and often available second hand. The good thing about the concrete block composter is that you can build large compartmental
Maintaining your Composter
Like anything good, you will need to maintain your compost heap. Don’t worry though as it is easy if you don’t mind physical work.
Stir your compost heap
Like any good compost, agitating the heap will introduce oxygen and mixes the ingredients. For organic matter to decay, it requires air. The ingredients naturally include elements such as Nitrogen which help to facilitate organic decay.
Cover your compost pile
Damp stagnant conditions can be artificially replicated by covering the compost heap with a tarpaulin.
Add a compost accelerator
You might find that your organic material is rich enough so accelerators are not required. Most compost accelerators are just a concentrated Nitrogen mix.
Using your homemade compost
This is the exciting part of composting. All your hard work results in a rich nutritional compost that your plants will reward you will lush growth and nutritional food.
Using your compost can be as simple as
- Soil dressing
- Planting additive
- Autumn preparation
- Potting or seed compost
Soil dressing with compost
Using your new well-composted material as a top dressing will add structure but also it will help improve moisture retention. Another rarely mentioned benefit is that every time you water will wash the stored nutrients to the roots.
Whenever you plant a new vegetable or flower plant add compost to the soil to improve the soil and help feed the roots.
When preparing the vegetable garden for the following growing season it is best to do this during the fall. Clear the area from weeds and old crops and dig in your compost from your heap. Any material that has not fully composted will rot down in the bed.
Potting or seed compost
It is easy to just buy compost from the garden centre but there is another way. You can use your homemade compost but you must prepare it first. My grandfather would always make his own seed compost. He did this by well rotting leaf mould and finally sieving it over a blow torch. The heat would sterilise and skill any weed seed.
My compost conclusion
Composting is a pastime that has been with us for centuries. Every gardener I have ever known has built their compost heaps from scratch and I don’t blame them. Frankly the decomposing of organic waste is something you have to do as gardening naturally produces green waste which you will need to deal with. So why not recycle and reuse?