Compost is an organic fertilizer made from decomposed materials often recycled from your own garden.
It is used to fertilize flower beds, trees, and shrubs, to top dress lawns and to improve soil quality by adding humus to the soil.
In short, if you want a good garden, you've just got to have compost!
There are lots of ways to make compost.
- Bev McConnell, the great gardener of Whitford uses concrete block bins with removable fronts and holes in the blocks for aeration.
- Stuart Watson of Christchurch prefers low flat bins that are easily turned out for his smaller section. There are plastic bins that some swear by and some swear at because they can become overly wet and sour.
- And Ernie Rogers (spelling) has perfected a classic composting system for his 1/4 Acre Paradise.
Another method is called sheet composting:
The idea here is to spread the materials in sheets or piles underneath trees or shrubs. This acts as a mulch holding in valuable soil moisture while the rotting material enriches the soil. Now there is an art to everything including composting. A good compost pile should be sheltered from heavy rains that can make it too wet and mucky. And it must have good air circulation so that the bacteria that actually consume the pile can breath. One way to do this is to build up the pile in alternating layers up to 10cm. deep. First put down a layer of soft sticks or other open, rough materials that will allow air to circulate through the pile. Next add a layer of richer, soft organic matter like kitchen scraps or garden clippings. Autumn leaves make great compost and its much better for our environment to compost them rather than burn them, so in they go!
Then add a layer of grass clippings or soil, perhaps enriched with fertilizer or lime. This layer acts as a cap that holds in the heat of decomposition and helps the pile rot faster. Then start again with another rough layer and continue to build the pile up to 5 or 6 feet. While almost anything can be composted, its best to keep weeds or anything looking diseased in a separate pile that is unlikely to contaminate the garden. Sprinkling lime or phosphate over the pile will further enrich the pile and also stops unpleasant smells.
While lime, ashes or dried blood will help to keep rodents away from the pile. The pile will need occasional turning but if all goes well, your fresh compost will be ready in a few months. It's a good idea to have several piles going at various stages of development in order to keep a ready supply of compost on hand at all times. But if you are just starting out or have a very large garden and need a lot of compost, you might want to think big. Yates Granulated Bark.
Composting is one of life's little miracles. Who would believe that this turns into this which feeds this! Wow! But getting back to basics, recycling is an important concept in our modern world. And composting is an effective and realistic way for you to do your part and truly become an environmental hero in your own backyard.
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