Compost gardening is good for the environment, budget friendly and great for your fruits, vegetables and flowering plants. If you are maintaining your own compost piles or bins, you can run into some minor problems with them, so the first priority is to have a well functioning compost heap.
Your compost pile should be a good balance of browns and greens, be kept moist at all times, and covered when it is very wet and rainy.
- Chop up your twigs, clippings, and vegetation as small as you reasonably can, and the process will go much faster for you. Adding a can of worms, or a thin layer of soil to your pile will help it along. Cow and horse manure are also good.
- There are artificial additives that can be mixed with your compost, such as nitrogen fertilizer. This will accelerate the process.
- Mix it with your organic materials.
- If it starts to smell like rotten eggs, it might have gotten too wet.
- Add shredded newspaper, dried leaves, or grass, and turn it over, mixing well.
- Adding some lime will help to lessen the smell. But if it smells like ammonia, use fireplace ashes or dolomite to neutralize the odor.
To keep pets, flies, and vermin away, don’t put any type of meat, fish, fatty food scraps, egg yolks, or bones in your compost mix. Compost flies are actually a good thing, as they indicate that the compost is decomposing nicely. Using a tarp or a bin with a lid, will help to keep that problem to a minimum.
Ants will gravitate to dry compost heaps, but they are good for distributing the material and mixing it up for you.
- Get rid of them before you add the compost to the garden by watering it well. The ants will vacate and your compost will be ready to do its job.
- If the compost gets too dry fungal spores (a fine powder) may form which when disturbed can be dangerous to breathe in. If this occurs, wet the heap, cover with soil and allow to sit for a few days.
- If the compost gets too wet turning it to incorporate air should help as will the addition of some dry material such as grass clippings.
Once the compost is dark, crumbly and no longer smells bad, you can add it to your garden.
- Mix it lightly in with the garden soil, or use it as mulch around your plants, shrubs, fruit trees, and flowers.
- As water seeps into the ground, the fine roots will suck up the nutrients from the compost. It will also help to keep the soil moist in arid times or when it is hot and windy.
Don’t forget to wear gardening gloves when handling compost and always wash your hands when you are through!
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