This article will teach you to make quality compost with different materials. Follow the steps to provide your own compost heap with a pleasant, crumbly texture.
A well-known gardening practice is enriching the soil with compost. This precious component is created by recycling organic waste, helping increase overall soil nutrients and enhance the structure.
The process of making compost basically is done by accelerating natural decomposition of organic material. Your role in compost making, is much of a facilitator than a creator. All you do, is to provide favorable conditions for numerous living things to achieve their job much faster. You’ll need to wait and understand how these particles work before you get the hang of compost making. First step to this practice, is to understand what exactly happens in the peat, and how you’ll be able to maximize the procedure speed to end up with the perfect, crumbly pile of natural fertilizer.
The very heat radiating from a compost heap indicates life going on inside it. All the organic matter is decomposed by zillions of bacteria, fungi and other organisms involved in process of decay. First species to get the job started, is psychrophile bacteria which functions in low temperature. These microorganisms oxidize carbon substances to produce energy, warming the peat up in the process. This will prepare conditions for mesophile bacteria, which prefer temperatures of 20 to 30 °C. If conditions are kept undisturbed, the temperature will reach 40 to 70 degrees, where thermophiles get into work. Such high temperature will last for only a few days and process comes to and end; However, if there’s a need of new oxygen fixation or undecomposed material is still lying around, a new cycle will occur. This might repeat over and over until everything is broken down and decomposed.
In fact, increasing internal temperature of a heap will accelerate decomposition process, while killing the weed seeds. But still, a small pile of material will not suffice for achieving a high temperature and you probably won’t have enough time to turn the heap regularly. Don’t get discouraged! Main part of decomposition is done by mesophiles. These bacteria are efficient decomposers and they’ll cooperate with macro-organisms such as earthworms and insects which break down the material by eating and digesting the particles.
Let’s return to the big image. It’s your job to provide suitable conditions for living organisms to function and do all the decomposing. Long story short, organisms require four elements to survive and function. These include carbon, nitrogen, water and air. Getting the right balance is the key to success. The simple way to evaluate your ways of making compost, is checking the carbon/nitrogen ratio. The half-and-half ratio shows you the rest of components are at balance. Materials like straw, cardboard, woody stems, shredded waste paper and barks are rich in carbon (brown), while leaves, grass clipping, animal manure and vegetable wastes (green) are rich in nutrients. To ensure balance, pour the brown and green layers one by one and turn the heap. This will also speed up the process. If the ratio is disturbed by any means, problems will arise. Nitrogen rich material such as leaves and vegetable waste become slushy and wet overtime, releasing substances such as ammonia and limiting the functionality of aerobic bacteria. If your peat smells bad, you’ve probably added too much nitrogen-containing material. To solve this issue, add some dry leaves or straw to the peat and mix well. Be careful not to get the peat too dry, since carbon-rich material take forever to decompose on their own. Always add equal amounts of nitrogen and carbon to your peat to ensure balanced decomposition.
After you balanced out the N/C ratio, it’s time to check if there’s adequate air circulation and moisture in your peat. Turn the peat every other week to get enough air running through for the material to decompose faster. Some experts recommend preparing two or three wooden containers for thorough turning. You’ll need to turn contents of one container into another for that matter. If the containers have holes, air will circulate better. For best results, expose the bottom of containers to the earth to give access to native organisms. Final essential component, is water. Manage it accordingly; when peat goes dry, spray some water on it, and cover it when there’s a rain coming. Be attentive toward your peat to get rewarded with a nice, rich compost in just a few months. You’ll thank yourself later when the compost-treated plants respond happily.
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