Composting had been going on for millions of years. The process goes on when leaves fall from trees in the forest. The leaves decay and provide nutrients for nearby trees and other plants.
Composting for the home garden is the process of preparing and applying organic fertilizer to the home garden. Composting can be as simple as setting aside an area of your yard or garden where you collect organic material and allow it to rot and become rich fertilizer that you can use throughout the growing season.
This organic material can be leaves, grass clippings or even food scraps. Composting provides the nutrients phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium for your growing plants. It encourages healthy growth which helps your vegetable crops to fight off disease and insect attacks.
A simple compost pile can be made by building an enclosure with a circle of wire fencing. Organic matter is simply added to the pile as it becomes available. This method is simple yet effective if you don’t want to dedicate a lot time or effort into making compost. The collection of organic material simple breaks down naturally through the action of bacteria, rendering the material into a rich dark fertilizer.
There are many commercial compost bins and barrels available from your local gardening store. A compost bin can even be made from scraps of lumber you might have lying around home. The most important thing to remember is to add as much useful organic plant material to your enclosure as you can.
Another important stage of making compost involves turning the organic material periodically so that decomposition is uniform. The organic material generates heat which promotes decomposition. Keep the compost moist but not over wet. The moisture helps to promote decay. A good blend of green and brown materials provides a wide spectrum or nutrients to be later used in your garden.
Brown material such as dried leaves and twigs provide carbon for the compost pile. Sawdust, hay and wood chips can also be used to add nutrients to your compost. Green materials are made up of grass clippings and green leaves. These add nitrogen to the soil. The microorganisms in the compost act on the green and brown materials to create compost.
Table scraps such as egg shells and coffee grounds are ideal for adding to you compost. Vegetable peels, nut shells and rinds also are great. Just be sure to mix the compost well to blend in all the ingredients.
A mixture of about 30 parts brown material and one part green material provides a balance of organic matter that will supply enough nutrients when added to your gardening soil. The measurements do not have to be precise. It is just a matter of getting a good blend of organic material.
The compost pile should be turned often with a shovel or pitch fork. This oxygenates the compost and provides for the more efficient action of the bacteria on the organic material.
Do not add pet or human waste to the compost. Avoid adding weeds to the compost pile. Weed seeds could sprout and grow next season, creating more problems. You want your compost to be clean and disease free. Do not ad meat or bone scraps to the compost because they take longer to decompose.
If you have been collecting materials for your compost pile all summer, then by next spring you should have plenty of thick, dark and rich organic fertilizer to add to the garden.
Add a three to five inch layer to the garden in early spring. Till the soil by with a shovel or motorized tiller to a depth of about twelve inches. Some vegetable crops have deep roots so deeply tilled soil will nourish the entire root system.
It is a good idea to scatter a thin layer of compost around your vegetables at least once a month during the growing season to promote healthy plant growth and especially after flowering when the plants start to set fruit.
It is easy to make your own compost. Composting is a proces that goes on in nature and provides nutrients for the garden. Make you own and use it to promote healthy and prolific growth of your gardening crops.