Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Compost and Mulch

Compost is any decayed, organic plant or animal matter. It's nutrient rich and acts as a natural fertilizer for your plants. The composting is accomplished over a period of time by means of natural bacteria and often aided by worms, heat, and water. Compost includes weeds, grass clippings, hay, seaweed, garden waste, kitchen scraps, tree leaves and twigs to name a few. I can include animal matter but animal matter is discouraged.

Mulch is any material placed around plants as a protective covering for reducing weeds, increasing/decreasing the soil temperature or retaining moisture around the plant. Mulches can be organic like compost, wood chips, or hay. Or they can be inorganic like plastic sheeting.

A well maintained and active compost pile will convert organic material to compost in as little as thirty days. If left for nature to take care of the pile, it will likely take several months or a year. Most people who compost nowadays do so in a compost bin which is more aesthetically pleasing than having a pile of composting material in the middle of your yard.

To your composter add any organic matter from your garden or yard. Include any vegetable waste from the kitchen (including eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, etc). Alternate layers of green and brown waste (new and old), if at all possible. This helps with the mixing and decomposition. Keep your compost pile moist, but not wet. Turn the pile over from time to time so the bacteria and microbes can convert the pile into rich compost. After it has turned to soil, or mostly soil, feel free to use it.

Do not put any type of feces in your compost pile.

Do not pile grass clippings too thickly.

Do chip or shred larger items like branches or plant stalks if possible.

Do not put any diseased plants of any kind into your compost pile.

Stir your pile to mix it up it will speed up the process.

Add red worms to your pile. They should reproduce and they will speed up the composting process.

This is an excellent site for what you can and cannot compost, be sure to check it out:

Next: Making the most of your garden area


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