6 Must-Know Things About Composting

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Composting is not something that happens overnight, it needs a ton of plant matter to produce a good amount of usable compost fertilizer.

With that said it is worth the time, artificial fertilizers provide nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium but plants need more than that and compost will provide all of the nutrients that your plants need.

Adding compost to your soil is a great way to help improve the soil for plant better growth and overall health by adding nutrients, beneficial microbes, and decomposing plant matter that will help to hold water in the soil.

1. WHAT DECOMPOSES THE FASTEST?

What Decomposes The Fastest

All plant matter that is not woody will decompose in just a few months to as much as one year depending on the material which includes grass clipping, leaves, pine straw, food scrapes, and tender plants such as weeds that have not flowered.

No matter the material used, turning the compost pile once or twice a week introduces oxygen to the pile for the microbes.

It also helps to bring the material that has not been decomposed to the microbes at the center of the pile.

2. COMPOST ACTIVATOR

Composting starter also known as composting activator or accelerator is not necessary to start or maintain a compost pile but if you are short on time then they can help.

When starting your compost pile, adding natural actuators such as grass clipping, comfrey, alfalfa, or nettles will easily decompose providing nitrogen that feeds the microbes.

As long as your pile starts off big enough with the proper materials then the process will start naturally all on its own.

If you don’t have access to enough natural activators then a man-made activator can be purchased at any garden center or online retailer.

3. COMPOSTING METHODS

There are a few proven methods for composting organic material with the compost pile being the oldest and most popular method and will produce ready-to-use compost in eight to twelve weeks if turned properly and regularly.

Another option is a composting bin made from wood pallets or chicken wire and green metal fence posts which will produce ready-to-use compost in about six to eight weeks if turned properly and regularly.

The last option is a composting tumbler which can sell for several hundred dollars depending on the size and produce ready-to-use compost in about three weeks if turned regularly.

They can easily be made with a metal 55-gallon drum, metal pole, gear, and handle then welded where needed.

4. HOW TO APPLY COMPOST?

Compost can be applied to the top of the soil but it is better to mix it in with the topsoil which will help it to stay healthy.

Another option is to place the compost into a fine mesh bag and soak it in a buck or 55-gallon drum for several days.

Diluting the liquid fertilizer before adding it to any plants is a must with the dilution ration of 4 cups of compost tea to 1 gallon of water.

5. IS COMPOSTING GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?

Healthy soil is always good for the environment and composting is no different.

It helps to improve the structure of the soil which helps to hold more water and creates less soil erosion with the undigested plant material.

It also helps to reduce waste in landfills by diverting food waste and yard clipping into beneficial plant food which also reduces or eliminates the need for man-made fertilizers.

6. WHAT NOT TO PUT IN THE COMPOST PILE?

Everything decomposes but it doesn’t mean that it is a good idea to go into the compost pile or bin.

MEATS, DAIRY PRODUCTS, AND OILS

Any kind of meat takes a long time to decompose and when added to a compost pile, you run the risk of contaminating the pile with bad bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli, or listeria.

When meat rots these bacteria can take off and infest the pile, then when the infested compost comes into contact with your crops and you eat the crops, you will become sick.

Any kind of vegetable oil or cooking oil and any dairy products will slow the decomposition process which can all the bad bacteria to take over and make the pile go sour or bad.

Adding any of these things will draw in unwanted wildlife such as rats, skunks, raccoons, flies, and more.

TREATED WOOD

Treated lumber will still have residue in it that will get into the soil and kill the organisms that are breaking everything down.

ANIMAL WASTE AND URINE

Using the waste of house pets is not a good idea because it could contain harmful bacteria and or parasites.

Urine should never be added to a compost pile or garden because the ammonia may be too high and bring too much nitrogen into the soil and burning plants.

The other reason is the toxins in urine, it should be used at all.

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