How to make a great compost

Lets begin with Humus, not to be confused with the Garbanzo dip Hummus.

Humus is the organic component of soil, formed by the decomposition of leaves and other plant material by soil micro organism’s.  “Google”

The act of composting creates a nutrient rich humus for your garden.

COMPOSTING:

Just like any good recipe, your compost pile must consist of good ingredients.

What I mean by that, is the organic matter you put into your compost pile must be from healthy plants, or leaves, scraps  etc…

Never put plants that have had a fungus or virus or have died from unknown causes into your pile.

If you have pulled weeds from your garden or lawn this makes for good green compost material.   Make sure your weeds or grass haven’t grown seed heads that may be composted and returned to your garden to grow.

Mowed grass clippings, raked leaves, small braches from trees, chopped or chipped up, paper scraps or cardboard pieces also make for good compost material.

And don’t forget about food scraps from your kitchen.   Only vegi based foods please.

So you have gathered together all your material to begin your compost pile.

There are a few methods that you can use to create your pile.  The first is the  open pile.

1.  Placing your material on bare ground in a an organized heap, (I’ll explain in a minute) out in the open, is the first method.  By placing the material on the bare ground you allow worms to aerate the pile for you.

Open Pile Method

This would be a great place to add some “red wigglers” or worms  to the earth before placing your pile on the ground.

2.  The  closed bin:   You can build a three sided bin to house your compost pile.  This will keep your pile from flattening out.  In my opinion it also makes it easier to turn your pile in the future.

Three stage open bin composting 1st Raw material 2nd Turned pile 3rd Finished Black Gold or Compost

Wired cage

3.  The barrel which allows you to turn your pile with a crank.

Ok, once you have established your pile method it is time to put in your material.

This is where things can go very wrong.   How you put your materials onto your pile is very important.   It may take a few tries for you to get it right but Do NOT give up, it is worth it!

Method of placing materials in pile:

Some of your material will be green material.  These are your moist items, vegi scraps, tea bags, coffee grinds.  Be sure you have plenty of grass clippings etc… to give the food scraps 2 inches of cover, so that raccoons and mice aren’t attracted to your pile.

You should place more of the dry material such as paper, cardboard, wood chips, straw etc. into your pile than the rest of the materials such as horse or cow manure or rabbit droppings, grass clippings or if you have grown a crop for composting such as rye, amaranth, clover etc..   Never use pet or any manure from meat eating animals.

1.  First  place straw, small branches etc.. brown stick type material down to allow

oxygen to get into your pile.

2.  Then layer your pile with a small amount of your dry material, then green material,

then dry, then manure, repeating the process until your materials are all on the pile.

3.  Moisten the pile with water just until damp.

You should have more Carbon items than Nitrogen items in your pile.

Carbons are your dry material.

4.  Cover with a tarp, plastic sheet, etc.. anything that will keep the moisture and heat

inside your pile.

Check on your pile bi- weekly.  Turn your pile with a shovel or a pitch fork when the temperature in the middle of your pile reaches between 140-150 degrees.

This process will allow oxygen into your pile as well as moving the cooler outside material into the warmer center of the pile for composting.

If all has gone well in just a few weeks you should have the most wonderful compost or Black Gold.  Congratulations!

Black Gold Compost

Apply liberally to all your plants.   They will reward you generously for your efforts.

The low down on DIRT

What is dirt anyway?

When you sweep a floor and all the little stuff you pick up is swept into a pile.  That pile is dirt.

Many will say dirt is the ground but that is incorrect.   Dirt is particles of stuff laying around everywhere.   Bit and pieces of all sorts of matter gathered anywhere.   That is Dirt.

Soil on the other hand is a rich composition of minerals, composted plant matter and living organisms.

Soil is what your garden grows in.   It is important to have rich, dark brown, uncompacted soil in which to grow your garden.  If you have these things you will also have an abundance of earth worms important for arerating   Especially if you have heavy clay in your area, micro organisms such as nematoads that eat garden pests. yummy right?   .