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Your garden needs good compost: there’s no question about that. If you want your vegetables and fruits to produce well and stay healthy, you’ll need to learn to create your own soil improver. Here are the top organic compost ingredients.
But, how does compost work its magic? First, let’s see what it is.
What is Compost?
The power of mother nature at its finest.
Compost is the rich, dark matter that is created when organic materials like plants, animals, and minerals decompose. You can see the process of composting in nature.
Walk into a forest and you’ll see organic matter like leaves, wood, and grass decompose into this rich, black material.
When you make your own compost, you just speed up the process with the right materials and techniques.
Because any organic material left long enough will decompose, it’s really hard to mess up making compost.
The trick is to make it fast enough and good enough for your garden plants, even if you are composting in small spaces.
How Does The Magic Of Compost Help Your Plants?
Plants are like children. You need to nurture them, care for them, and give them the right nutrients. And the soil in your garden is an essential component to care for your plants. Adding compost to your soil will help turn it into a warm and healthy environment for your plants.
The roots of your plants need air and moisture. Soil that contains good compost allows good air circulation. It retains sufficient moisture while draining out the excess.
The soil containing decomposed organic matter ensures the roots grow strong and healthy. This protects the plant from stress factors like wind.
The soil with good air circulation and moisture encourages essential organisms like bacteria, insects, and worms to thrive. They make your soil fertile by adding more organic material to it.
Compost can help change the composition of your soil. If your soil is too sandy, it can’t retain moisture and the roots will die. If your soil is full of clay, it retains too much water and the roots will rot.
But with the right amount of homemade fertilizer, sandy soil or clay soil will turn into the loamy soil that is a dream for gardeners.
Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium
The organic material in compost gives your plants a good amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Nitrogen helps your plants grow healthy foliage, phosphorus is essential to growing healthy roots and stem, while potassium will protect your plants from disease.
If your garden has good compost, you don’t need to worry about testing your soil and adding fertilizer to it.
Good compost is made from a mix of organic materials. This means you don’t need to worry about the pH balance of the soil. The organic matter will ensure that the right balance is achieved.
Making compost is easy. It’s collecting a bunch of organic matter and allowing them to decompose till you get a rich, dark, matter that is friable.
Compost Ingredients Ratio
You also need to add the right organic materials in the right amount to your decomposing pile. The best way to do this is to add both green and brown organic materials in about 50:50 or 25:75 ratio.
Green materials, such as grass clippings and kitchen waste, add nitrogen to your compost pile.
Brown materials, such as sawdust and wood ash, add carbon.
10 Organic Compost Ingredients You Need To Include
1. Kitchen waste
The best and easiest source of organic matter for your compost pile is kitchen waste. But you do need to be a bit careful of what you add as part of such waste.
All kinds of fruit and vegetable matter are great as part of kitchen waste. But animal fat and oil are not recommended.
The fat does not decompose very well. It also coats the fibrous material in the pile and does not allow them to decompose as well.
Whether you can add animal waste to your compost pile or not depends. If your neighborhood does not allow it, you can’t. And even if it does, you need to be careful to protect it from rodents and flies.
The best you can do is to put it deep into your compost pile where they cannot reach.
2. Grass clippings
This is another easy source of green material for your compost.
Grass clippings provide a good deal of nitrogen to your composting pile. The problem is if it’s green and does not get sufficient oxygen, you’ll end up with a soggy and smelly pile.
So make sure to dry your grass clippings in the sun before you add them to the compost pile. Or add them together with a mixture of dried leaves to balance it out.
You may want to avoid using chemical pesticides and fertilizers in your lawn. Or if you use them, allow the compost pile sufficient time so it can get rid of these chemicals before adding it to your soil.
Leaves provide good nutrients to your compost but have one drawback. They take a while to decompose.
You can reduce this time by drying them out and shredding them up before adding to the compost pile.
If you’re lazy, you can just let them fall in your yard. Then shred them up with your lawnmower and let them decompose on the yard itself before adding to your compost pile.
You may have newspapers lying around the house which makes a good addition to the compost pile. They don’t add a lot of nutrients to the pile but provide it a good texture.
Make sure to shred them up before adding to the compost because the newspaper takes time to decompose.
Let it remain in the compost pile long enough so that the heat can evaporate the dyes used in the paper.
5. Pine needles
While pine needles don’t provide a lot of nutrients to the pile, they are good for adding the right texture.
They take a while to break down and may make the compost pile a bit acidic. But when used in the right quantity along with other materials they make a good compost pile.
It might seem like a bad idea to add weeds to your compost pile. But they are a great source of organic ingredients if you use them correctly in your compost pile.
You need to make sure the temperature in your compost pile reaches 135 degrees Fahrenheit so that it kills the weed seeds.
And you can put the weeds at the center of the pile where the temperature gets high. If they are at the top of the pile, the weed seeds can germinate in the compost itself.
A great source of nutrients for your compost pile, you can get hay from a local farm.
The important thing is to get weathered hay that is the gray hay already in a decomposing condition and unfit for animal consumption.
If you can only get unweathered hay, just use a little bit of it in the compost pile because it needs a lot of nitrogen to break down.
Don’t use ash from burning coal, as that is toxic. You need to get the ash by burning wood or plant matter like fruit or vegetable peels.
This ash is a good source of organic potassium and phosphorus ingredients for your compost pile. You do need to add several layers of this to your pile as the potassium tends to get washed away in the rain.
9. Ground Stone and Shells
You can add minerals to your compost with some ground stones. The problem is getting them ground fine enough for the pile.
You can also grind clam, lobster, and crab to get a rich source of calcium carbonate for your compost pile.
Eggshells work great, too. Eggshells take a long time to decompose, but they are a great source of beneficial nutrients for your compost heap. Even better, if you have chickens you have yourself a constant supply.
Just be sure to grind or break down the shells as fine as you can and mix them in thoroughly.
Seaweed is a great material for the compost because it decomposes easily and contains a ton of nutrients. This includes potassium, boron, iodine, magnesium, calcium, and sodium.
You can also use it to top off your compost because it acts as an insulating layer in the cold season.
It doesn’t get much more organic than manure! While not the most attractive of materials to work with, there are a lot of benefits to adding manure as one of your key organic compost ingredients.
Luckily, if you tend to any farm animals you will have an almost unlimited supply. Chicken, cow and horse manure are high in the nutrients and nitrogen that your compost pile will love.
You should avoid the manure of meat-eaters and stick to the vegetarians. Dealing with manure can be… messy. And don’t forget to wear gloves as waste products carry lots of bacteria that can make us sick.
Compost a gift from Mother Nature. You can grow the strong, healthy, and bountiful plants you want with the help of a few organic compost ingredients.
And you can do this without using chemicals that are toxic to the environment. Choose the right organic materials and make the compost your garden needs.
Bonus: Root Cellar That Can Be Used as a Bunker
Do you remember the old root cellars our great-grandparents used to have? In fact, they probably built it themselves, right in their back yard.
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