Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Across the planet earth an amazing process is continuously taking place. Plant parts and animal leavings rot or decompose with the help of fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms. Earthworms and an assortment of insects do their part digesting and mixing the plant and animal matter together. The result is a marvelous, rich, and crumbly layer of organic matter we call compost, which is nature's gift to the gardener.
Benefits of Compost
Compost encourages earthworms and other beneficial organisms whose activities help plants grow strong and healthy. It provides nutrients and improves the soil. Wet clay soils drain better and sandy soils hold more moisture if amended with compost. A compost pile keeps organic matter handy for garden use and, as an added advantage, keeps the material from filling up overburdened landfills.
How to Make Compost
Start with a layer of chopped leaves, grass clippings and kitchen waste like banana peels, eggshells, old lettuce leaves, apple cores, coffee grounds, and whatever else is available. Keep adding materials until you have a six-inch layer, and then cover it with three to six inches of soil, manure, or finished compost.
Alternate layers of organic matter and layers of soil or manure until the pile is about three feet tall. A pile that is three feet tall by three feet square will generate enough heat during decomposition to sterilize the compost. This makes it useful as a potting soil, topdressing for lawns, or soil-improving additive.
Your compost pile may benefit from a compost activator. Activators get the pile working, and speed the process. Alfalfa meal, barnyard manure, bone meal, cottonseed meal, blood meal, and good rich compost from a finished pile are all good activators. Each time you add a layer to your pile, sprinkle on some activator and water well.
Posted by Ron at 9:16 PM