Posted by Brent Wilson on 9/14/2016 to DIY Projects
Rather than bag leaves or grass clippings up and throw them away, or toss kitchen scraps in the garbage, another option is to put this organic matter to good use by turning them into Black Gold...rich organic compost that is.
What is Compost?
In a nutshell, compost is decomposed organic matter. Composting is a natural process of recycling organic material such as leaves and vegetable scraps into a highly beneficial, rich soil amendment or mulch.
Veteran gardeners swear by compost, and for good reason: it feeds the soil and promotes healthy and vigorous growth of plants. Compost is unrivaled for adding readily available nutrients and beneficial bacteria to vegetable garden soil, or to the back-fill soil mixture when planting shrubs, trees, perennials, annuals. A small percentage of compost can be adding to the potting mix when planting container gardens. Compost is also very useful as a mulch/fertilizer around plants and trees in the landscape.
How to make compost?
Start by picking out an obscure spot on your property to locate a compost pile, which involves little more than piling up leaves, clippings, kitchen scraps and other materials into a heap, and waiting for it to ferment. Alternatively, you can also build an attractive compost bin and locate it anywhere you see fit. Either way, within a relatively short period of time the leaves and other matter you add to the compost pile will decompose into a rich organic matter you can use later when planting or as a mulch.
To get the best results in your compost pile, large materials you add, such as tree limbs, corn stalks, etc., should be chopped into smaller pieces to facilitate decomposition. Layer with other types of materials, especially manure, green weeds or grass clippings. Adding a nitrogen supplement such as cottonseed meal, bone meal or dried blood meal is beneficial as well.
Begin the compost pile/heap by heaping up about 12 inches of organic matter (leaves, yard waste, kitchen scraps, etc.) in a pile that is 5 or 6 feet wide. Then apply 1 to 2 pounds of high-nitrogen organic fertilizer such as blood meal or cottonseed meal. Optionally, you can add 2 inches of soil.
Continue building the compost pile in this layered fashion as you generate more organic matter. The center of the pile should be concave to hold rain water. The inside of the pile should begin to heat up within a couple of weeks. The composting process should be complete within two to three months, which means if you start now you'll have Black Gold by spring!
We have two compost piles in the Wilson Bros gardens. When one gets to about three feet tall and 6 feet or so wide, we stop adding organic matter to it (only turning it occasionally until it looks like potting soil) and then start another pile. As you continue to add other organic matter to your compost pile throughout the winter months, keep the pile moist and turn it over frequently, maybe once every two to three weeks.
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