Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ingredients for Good Compost

Composting For DummiesLet it Rot!: The Gardener's Guide to Composting (Third Edition) (Storey's Down-to-Earth Guides)Compost is a type of organic material that resembles dirt, but which is very rich. It's more like organic fertilizer than soil, and when mixed in with soil provides gardens with a great source of nutrients for plants.

Many gardeners make their own compost right at home by simply composting kitchen and yard waste. There are many styles of compost bins for sale to make composting more effective and convenient. Some home composters choose to add certain worms to their developing compost to help it along, but if you're composting indoors it's perfectly understandable if you don't want to do this!

Composting using rotating compost bins or fixed ones, creates a great soil additive plus it recycles items that would otherwise be thrown out. Therefore, composting benefits the environment in two ways: by enriching soil and by keeping material out of the municipal waste stream. When it's added to your garden or flower beds, compost continues to break down for many years, giving your soil long-term nourishment that you can't duplicate with chemical fertilizers.

With compost tumblers and other types of compost bins, you do not have to worry about creating a smelly mess. When it's aerated properly, compost takes on an almost sweet smell, that some have described as similar to the smell of a forest after it rains. As long as you keep meat, fish, bones, fat, and dairy products from your compost, you don't have to worry about it smelling bad. Here are some of the main ingredients in good compost.

 So-called green matter is the first ingredient in compost. This can be grass clippings, tree clippings, vegetable peels, carrot tops, banana peels, rotted fruits and vegetables, and even weeds. Green matter in your compost gives microorganisms the things they need to break down the carbon.

Brown matter includes shredded or chipped wood (untreated only), sawdust, dead leaves (ground up is best), dead plants and flowers, nut shells, and straw. And as long as it's free of harsh chemicals and colored ink, you can shred up junk mail and use it as brown matter. These ingredients provide the carbon the microorganisms feed on.

Other things you can put in compost include crushed up egg shells, tea bags, and coffee grounds. You can even use manure from plant-eating animals (cows, sheep, chickens), though it is not necessary. Never use feces from carnivorous animals. People have successfully composted dryer lint, vacuum cleaner dirt, feathers, cotton rags (cut up), and bedding from pets like hamsters and gerbils.

See how to make a good compost

For compost to break down properly, you need both green and brown matter. When there are sufficient quantities of each, the compost will be warm and damp. The best way to keep the process humming along nicely is to rotate the composter regularly, or turn it with a pitchfork or shovel (or even a gardening fork for small plastic compost bins that don't have turning cranks). It takes anywhere from six weeks to several months to get the marvelous end product, but you'll know it's "done" when it's nearly black in color, and has a crumbly texture and pleasant, earthy smell. Isnare,

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