Monday, May 25, 2009

Composting: Helpful Tips to Creating Nutrient Rich Compost

Composting is the process of organic material breaking down. The process of breaking down is more commonly known as decomposing. There is an entire ecosystem of earthly creatures, some you can see like worms, and many you can not like bacteria, that are working hard for you to give you great compost.

With that said there are still some things you can do to either speed up the process or make it more efficient. I have listed some of my tips below that have helped me with my gardening adventures and I am sure they will help you as well.

Ventilation & Aeration
Oxygen is required by all living organisms. For humans we need it to breathe and stay alive. The ecosystem in your compost pile is the same way. They need oxygen to live, throve and prosper. So when you build your compost bin, whether it is a wooden box or a store bought one, make sure there is plenty of ventilation holes in it so oxygen can get in.

There is an optimal temperature range for compost to decompose efficiently. Starting at 90 degrees Fahrenheit up through 135 degrees Fahrenheit has been shown to be the best. Although some experts will say it can go as high as 155 degrees Fahrenheit, if you keep it within the range above you should be ok. Invest in a compost thermometer to monitor the temperature of the middle of the compost pile. When that temperature starts getting near the top range it is time to work the pile by turning it over. This keeps the center a nice level for your decomposing ecosystem to work.

Your compost pile must remain moist. Let’s face it, worms, bugs, bacteria and fungi all like it a little more wet than you and if you want to excel at decomposing your organic material then misting down your pile is a great way to go. You do not need to drench it, but only apply enough water to where the pile remains moist and damp.

Would you pick up a entire steak and put it in your mouth? Or an entire zucchini for your vegetarians out there? Of course you wouldn’t, or at least I hope not. Well your earth workers do not want to shove an entire egg shell in their mouth either. What I am getting at is if you want the optimal performance of decomposition shred or grind your material before you put it in the bin. It makes it easier for your workers and will speed up the process.

Get a good mixture of various organic material together. You could make compost out of just grass or just leaves, but by combining them you are creating a compost that covers all of the nutrients needed by plants in your gardens. Your compost bin should consist of leaves, grass, twigs, pine cones, newspaper, paper junk mail, and old cotton clothing (all metal and plastic removed of course).

As you can see they are straight forward tips and advice that you can start implementing today for better compost.

About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person. It is a practical easy to follow book that teaches gardeners everything from composting techniques, aeration and frost conditions, to choosing the right tools and picking the right seeds.

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