Compost is basically made up to of decomposed organic material. The organic material can be of plant or animal origin. Composting is not as mysterious or complicated as most people seem to think. It is a very simple and natural process. It occurs naturally in nature, and half the time without any assistance from humans.
Decomposition of plant and animal material happens in the wild. When living plants and annual plants die at the end of the season, it is consumed by larger mammals, birds and small creatures like worms, insects, and microscopic organisms. The end result of this cycle is compost, be it digested and undigested food that is left on the forest floor. This creates a rich, usually soft soil.
Making your own compost is a great way to save money, time and provides you with a means to dispose of grass clippings, weeds, and other garden debris. Below outlines steps on how you can make your own compost pile that you can add to your garden to enhance the growth of your plants.
1. Pile up one- to two-foot leaves or 6-12 inches of compact material. Compact material may include grass clippings or sawdust. You can also use hay, straw, hulls, nutshells, and tree trimmings (except walnut). Shred them so that they will decompose faster. You can also add in organic garden or kitchen waste (DO NOT use meat scraps) that do not have pesticides or diseases.
2. Then spread a layer of fertilizer on top of this pile. The nitrogen in the fertilizer will encourage microorganisms to speed the decay of the organic materials.
3. Add 1/2 cup of ground limestone then shovel some of your garden soil into it. The garden soil provides a medium for the microorganisms to start a colony.
4. Water the pile regularly so that it is kept moist. You should continuously add garden waste to the pile.
5. Repeat the process of layering your fertilizer, lime and soil.
Turn and mix the pile once every 2 weeks, allowing proper decomposition of the compost pile, as well as keeping an increasingly warm temperature in the pile uniform. The increase in temperature reduces the growth of weed seeds and harmful disease organisms.
Benefits of compost
Compost improves the drainage and moisture absorption of soil. This is especially useful for soils of porous quality that have very little water retention capabilities (like sandy soil). Compost helps by amending the various types of soils for easier and more productive plant growth.
Compost also provides a medium that retains nutrients which is important to a plant\’s growth. One should note though that compost is not an effective fertilizer, but reduces water runoff, allowing the plant to absorb fertilizer more efficiently.
This in turn also helps remediate contaminated soil by reducing toxic runoffs. Compost helps with the environment by binding certain toxins that might otherwise escape into the surrounding area and prevents soil erosion. Compost does not only have biological, chemical, and environmental benefits. The use of compost creates economic benefits by reducing the amount of fertilizer, water, and pesticides needed.
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