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Composting is a great way to help keep your plants and the environment healthy.
Compost can do many things like reducing yard waste 50 – 75%, recycling nutrients back into the environment, keeping your plants fed with valuable nutrients, helping improve drainage, and increasing aeration of clay soil.
Composting is a process by which micro-organisms (bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes) decompose organic material. Compost is a soil amendment, not a fertilizer. You can make a fertilizer by adding compost into water and arraying for a day or so, this process creates a compost tea which can be added directly to the garden.
There are many different ways to compost matter. You can use a plastic bin, a wire or wood structure, a hole in the ground, or even a bucket of worms in your home.
FOLLOW THESE EASY STEPS FOR PROPER COMPOSTING:
—Pick level ground with well draining soil in full sun. The pile will not smell if properly layered, turned, and aerated.
—A good size container to build is 3 x 3 x 5 feet, this size will generate the amount of heat needed to properly break down organic material. Protect the top from rain, too much moisture decreases aeration. Let air circulate through the sides and remember to turn the pile once it reaches a temperature of 150º. Creating three piles is a great way to go; one of new materials, one that's composting, and one finished.
—The Carbon: Nitrogen ratio should be between 30:1 and 15:1. Layer with compost maker, organic matter and soil. Do not use a lot of shredded paper or grass clippings at once. Remember to water only enough so 2 – 3 drops of moisture can be squeezed out. Compost may destroy some weed seeds. Most kitchen waste C:N ratio is 30:1 to 40:1 and straw is 80:1. Thin layers is the key.
—Be careful when composting meat and fat as they decay slowly and attract animals.
—In 3 to 4 days temperatures may be up to 130 - 150º. When the temperature drops, turn or aerate, then mix outside areas towards the middle. When the temperature stops peaking, the compost is finished and is ready for use.
—Watering is very important. Keep the pile moist, not dry or soggy. If a constant balance of moisture is not kept, you may kill off the organisms needed.
—The pile should be ready in 1 – 2 months in the summer if maintained properly, and 6 – 12 months during other seasons.
Gulley’s Gardening Tips
ORGANIC MATERIALS AND COMPOSTING:
USE Grass Clippings (in thin layers) Broken Branches (in small pieces) Leaves, Weeds, Vegetable Waste Oyster Shells, Bone Meal, Wood Ash Peanut Shells (high nitrogen), Egg Shells Manure & Legumes (high nitrogen) Cottonseed Meal (high nitrogen)
DO NOT USE Diseased plants or branches(throw away) Highly resinous wood and leaves, decay is longer --Juniper, Pine, Spruce, Arborvitae Human/Dog/Cat feces – may transmit diseases Grass treated with Weed & Feed (chemicals) Large amounts of Meat or Fat