Organic Compost

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Organic Compost

Composting is an agricultural practice that goes back over two thousand years to the time of the early Roman Empire. An organic compost pile serves two purposes: first, the recycling of waste materials and second, the enrichment of soil to grow better plants and vegetables.

The definition of composting is the continued layering of organic plant waste material so that material decomposes, first into nutrient-rich fertilizer and then eventually into topsoil. At its simplest, a compost pile is made and left to sit for a year or so; a more complex process can also be followed to create compost by continually monitoring the addition of precise amounts of different materials at different times.

The chemistry is simple — air, water and materials rich in nitrogen and carbon are mixed to create nitrates and nitrites, or plant fertilizer. Aeration, worms, fungi and bacteria all play a part in the process. The result can be used on lawns, in gardens, for general landscaping or in agriculture.

The chief advantage is that composting can proceed on its own with very little intervention. You can start with bare ground or use a container of wood or plastic 3-8 feet in diameter. Whichever you choose, surround the pile with chicken wire or mesh to keep pests away from what they think is a tasty snack.

There are many ingredients that you can add to a compost pile:

  • Grass clippings
  • Coffee grounds
  • Brush cuttings
  • Vegetable peelings
  • Fruit waste
  • Leafy tops from carrots, turnips and other root vegetables
  • Discarded vegetables
  • Vines
  • Leaves

Never add any of the following to your compost pile:

  • Animal waste
  • Meat or meat waste
  • Fruit or vegetable seeds
  • Any material treated with chemicals

When starting a compost pile, the bottom layer should be green waste, fruit leavings, vines and leaves. Use a pitchfork to mix everything thoroughly, but do not crush the materials. Soak with water and mix in dry leaves. Keep the materials in the compost pile consistently damp as you add new materials. Twice a week, turn the layers of the pile over on top of each other with a pitchfork.

If the compost seems too wet or smells too strong, mix in some dry leaves. If the compost seems too dry, mix in wet materials and water. Add two dozen live earthworms to accelerate the process. The proper smell of a compost pile should be fresh, yet musty, much like potting soil. Depending on the weather in your region, it will take two to four weeks for black or dark brown fertilizer to begin to form at the bottom of the pile. Spread this fertilizer liberally on your lawn or garden.

You can continue adding to the pile year round and turning the layers over as long as you want. A pile of compost will continue to pay back dividends as long as you keep the process going. A lawn greener than you can imagine will be the result.

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One comment

  1. I’ve got a question, do you know how good/beneficial using rabbit pellet’s (the green pellet’s you feed them)? Would it raise nitrogen levels, or what? I know when mixed into soil or compost it will get real hot in less then 12 hours.
    Thank You,

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