Composting, by way of a simple explanation, is when you take materials such as your kitchen scraps, and garden wastes and put them together in a compost heap or in a composting bin to decompose and turn them into humus.
Humus is the result of a successful composting process and is basically a nutrient-rich sweet-smelling black crumbly soil mixture that your garden and plants will love and thrive on. Composting sounds simple and it is, so long as you know how to do it the right way, otherwise you can end up with an unpleasant, vermin attracting the heap of smelly garbage in your garden.
Good quality compost is a great fertilizer for your plants and also acts as a soil improver for your garden. Not only will your vegetable and fruit plants be healthier, hardier and more disease resistant, but they will taste way better if you keep them organic and fed with excellent homemade compost.
In order to grow healthy organic vegetables then you need to know how to make your own good quality compost and there are several ways you can go about this.
While you can make compost by forming a heap of layered materials, on the ground, in a corner of your garden, it is perhaps not the easiest way or even the most convenient way to go about composting.
Most people find by far, the best way to make compost is to have a composting bin, which of course then leads us to work out just what type of composting bin will suit your particular circumstances best.
In order for composting to take place, you need to have the right levels of beneficial microbes to ‘do the work’ of composting or the breakdown of the organic materials you have in your pile. These microbes which consist of various fungi and bacteria are essential to achieve success and a good quality compost.
Like all ‘living’ things these microbes have certain requirements and there are both good and not so good microbes that can populate your compost heap depending on the conditions you provide for them.
Most people want their compost to be made as quickly as possible and to do this you will likely want to use the ‘hot’ composting method. To create a hot compost pile you will need aerobic microbes which need air or oxygen to survive. They also need the right amount of moisture.
If you fail to do this then the anaerobic microbes (the ones that don’t need oxygen) will take over and your compost heap can turn into a smelly mess. Similar issues can occur if your heap becomes too wet. If your compost heap becomes too dry, then it will turn into a ‘cold’ compost heap which will take around a year to break down, which is not often what people are wanting when composting.
So you can see that the art of composting requires you to maintain a balance of organic materials in the right quantities, the right amount of moisture as well as frequent aeration to assist the aerobic microbes to do their work.
Things that help you aerate your compost pile include some of the materials that you use such as hay, or dried leaves but even with these ingredients, you will still need to turn or rotate your compost on a regular basis.
If you have a compost pile on the ground then you will need a pitch fork and some ‘elbow grease’ or physical effort to regularly turn the pile, sometimes around once a week.
Another popular solution is to use a compost tumbler to make this task a whole lot easier. Of course, there are a ton of choices with compost tumblers too, so you need to be aware of what to look out for when it comes to the best choice for a compost tumbler and composting for your garden.
Certainly, composting is not only great for the environment and the recycling of organic waste materials, but it enriches the soil, improves the health of your plants an likely your own health and well being as well if you grow and eat your own delicious organic vegetables.