Sep 17

Compost

 

Compost is an essential component for the success of an organic garden. Composting is also an effective way to use up kitchen scraps and yard waste. Follow the link to a step-by-step guide with pictures showing how to make organic compost.

This picture shows a few samples of methods for composting.

This picture shows a few samples of methods for composting.

In the picture above, you can see in the forefront- a tumbling compost bin. The tumbling process helps air to circulate and the contents to mix easily. Below is a close-up.

This is the finished compost in the tumbler.

This is the finished compost in the tumbler.

Next, the black bin is a stationary container for composting. I use these bins to dispose of scraps like egg shells, vegetable peelings and coffee grounds (no fat , oils or meat products) from the kitchen and various small yard trimmings. One of the great advantages of these types of composting bins is that they prevent vermin (like skunks, racoons and opossums) from getting into the compost and dragging it around the property.

The material inside this bin is still in the raw stage.

The material inside this bin is still in the raw stage.

Behind the black bin is the Russian Comfrey that Diane planted last year. Russian Comfrey is used as a mulch.

The comfrey patch.

The comfrey patch.

In the far distance, you can see a pile of brush and yard trimmings that make up the rough stage compost. This rough stage pile consists of everything from small tree limbs and pine cones and needles to grass clippings and weeds. The heavier yard trimmings take longer to break down.

This rough pile was started in March of this year.  It is made up of mostly small to medium sized downed branches, grass clippings, larger trimmings from the garden like corn husks, squash and melon vines, etc.

This rough pile was started in March of this year. It is made up of mostly small to medium sized downed branches, grass clippings, larger trimmings from the garden like corn husks, squash and melon vines, etc.

Each spring while I am cleaning the yard from the winter debris of pine cones, leaves and evergreen needles, I collect these and pile them in an out of the way area of the yard. As the season progresses, I add whatever yard debris comes along. The material in the compost bins tends to break down a little quicker as it is smaller and has a high nitrogen content. By adding limestone, manure and other organic material the process of decomposition is accelerated.

Wood chips and saw dust are also very useful for building up organic matter in the soil.

These wood chips are the by-product of a recent local tree removal from a neighbors yard.  The chips will take at least 6 months to decompose enough to the point they can be used as mulch for trees and incorporated into the composting bins.

These wood chips are the by-product of a recent local tree removal from a neighbor’s yard. The chips will take at least 6 months to decompose enough they can be used as mulch for trees.

Steam rises from the pile of fresh wood chips.  At this stage they are too high in nitrogen (too hot) to be used for mulch.  Nitrogen is released in the form of hot gas/steam as the material decomposes.

Steam rises from the pile of fresh wood chips. At this stage they are too high in nitrogen (too hot) to be used for mulch. Nitrogen is released in the form of hot gas/steam as the material decomposes.

This finer sawdust comes from a local firewood production outfit.  The wood is well seasoned (dry) at the time it is cut for fireplaces and wood stoves.  This fine dust material is excellent for mulch anywhere around the garden.  It absorbs water, protects the roots of trees and plants and add more nutrient value to the soil as it breaks down  to humus.

This finer sawdust comes from a local firewood production outfit. The wood is well seasoned (dry) at the time it is cut for fireplaces and wood stoves. This fine dust material is excellent for mulch anywhere around the garden. It absorbs water, protects the roots of trees and plants and add more nutrient value to the soil as it breaks down to humus.

Manure is also helpful to the gardener. Well rotted horse manure is exceptional as a fertilizer and for adding to the compost to expedite the process of decomposition. Fresh (new) manure is deadly to crops because it is excessively high in nitrogen and burns vegetation and roots. Manure should be allowed to rot (decompose) for at least 1 year before it is usable in the garden. I am fortunate to have access to plenty of free well rotted manure. In the past 5 years that I have worked to develop this garden, I have added copious amounts to the main plot. I started with raw land that was covered with a heavy sod of field grasses and weeds. The soil beneath this sod was rocky and heavy clay. Clay is problematic for gardening as it does not drain well. Heavy clay soil needs to be lightened. By adding plenty of organic matter and using methods that build biomass this heavy soil can be made to drain well and retain high nutrient value.

You may refer to this article for a Complete Organic Fetlizer recipe.

The black bag on the left is well rotted manure, approximately 18 months. On the right is the finished compost after about a year.  I store the surplus in bags to be used in the spring as I begin the early plantings.

The black bag on the left is well rotted manure, approximately 18 months.
On the right is the finished compost after about a year. I store the surplus in bags to be used in the spring as I begin the early plantings.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://english-speak-english.com/compost/

2 comments

    • diane on September 17, 2013 at 1:22 pm
    • Reply

    Unlocking nutrients in the soil and improving it is a very important subject if you want a good yield and this article and the links from this year and the last clearly show what can be done. Also the importance of an ongoing cycle, food, decaying matter, soil, back to food. I like the photos and especially with their explanation captions underneath.

    1. Yes, excellent point re: the cycle of life-decay-death and then repeat is everywhere in the natural world.
      I was also pleased with the photos and should say it is one more example of Pentax superiority over Canon! hahahaha!
      Cheers.

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