Anyone who has had a garden for any length of time will tell you that the secret to a healthy, vibrant garden that produces well is good quality soil. The quality of the soil will have a direct effect on what you can grow, and how well it will grow. One way you can help improve your garden output is to add compost to your garden. It isn’t difficult to start a compost pile on your property, and in just a matter of weeks you can have your own all natural, nutrient rich fertilizer right at your fingertips.
What is Compost?
Basically, compost (or humus) is an organic fertilizer that you make by layering various kinds of waste. Over time the waste breaks down as it is turned and aerated, and forms a rich fertilizer. It is nutrient dense, and great for any garden or flower bed. You need five basic things to make a compost pile: water, air, green matter, brown matter, and something to put it all in. Brown matter would be items such as grass clippings, garden weeds, even paper or used coffee filters. Green matter is made up of banana peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, other fruit or vegetable peelings that you would otherwise throw out. The great thing about making your own is that you control the amount that you make. You can make a big amount or a small amount, based on your needs.
You have to have a place to keep your compost, and it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. For outdoor or large scale composting, you can use a barrel, a trash can, or build a compost bin out of 2×4’s. It needs to be something that will allow you to regularly turn and aerate the pile. Turning is vitally important to getting the best compost you can. Compost needs It also needs to be something that you can keep covered with a lid or tarp to keep the compost moist.
You can actually compost indoors using a coffee can or other type container with holes in the lid. This works great if you don’t have a lot of plants or a large garden to fertilize. The small container will be just enough for what you need. Just don’t forget to turn the container often to aerate the compost. You can add to it as needed.
Hot Composting Vs. Cool Composting
There are two basic methods of creating compost: hot and cool. Hot composting can create a usable batch of humus in a matter of days. It is made by layering the different types of waste, and then turning them with a hoe or spade every so often, and add some water as needed to keep the pile moist. You want to keep it covered to help trap in the heat, as compost needs heat, water, and air circulating to break down quickly. Cool composting takes a little longer to make humus, as you don’t aerate or mix the pile as often, you just add on alternate layers of waste, and watch for it to break down. This is a longer project, usually about 6 months before you see any humus, but can be started in cooler weather to be ready during gardening season.
As you can see, it really doesn’t take a lot of work to create a compost pile, and it is something your garden and plants can greatly benefit from during the growing season. Plus, it gives your weeds, food waste, and paper a place to go besides the garbage can! Have you tried composting? What are some tips you can share with beginners?