Put simply, by the term “compost” we actually refer to decomposed organic matter. Therefore, it can be rightly asserted that the leaves which break down on the forest floor happen to be compost. The same can be said about the bodies which are at the cemetery. Every organic matter will break down into compost after its demise. This breakdown is done by plants, animals, microbes, molds, water, and air.
Now that we have understood what exactly compost is, it is time for us to think about how to prepare our own garden compost. Will it be enough to simply purchase the compost in bags from the local store? It is a fact that every gardener will be having a different process of preparing compost.
In this blog, we will articulate the best ways to prepare compost for your garden.
1. Compost consistently and efficiently
It will be possible to make the compost quicker by becoming more consistent in maintaining the proper conditions. The rate at which the pile breaks down will depend on several aspects including particle size, moisture, temperature, aeration, and carbon to nitrogen ratio. It might require only three weeks or so for turning out a batch of finished compost in the most effective composting systems. On the other hand, the process might require one year or even longer for completing the process in a compost pile which is managed passively. In this case, the material will be just piled and left alone.
2. Get to understand your browns and greens
A successful compost pile consists of two primary ingredients, namely, nitrogen-rich ingredients and carbon-rich ingredients. We often refer to the carbon camp as “browns” since it includes stuff such as dried grass clippings, dried leaves, straws, and cardboard. On the contrary, nitrogen-rich “greens” comprise fresh grass clippings, vegetable scraps, as well as fresh leaves. It will be imperative to have at least one source of each for the compost pile. Always make sure to begin a fresh compost pile having a layer of browns at the bottom for absorbing the moisture and keeping things properly aerated, thus staying away from cesspool situations.
3. Strike the proper carbon-nitrogen balance
The interaction between nitrogen compounds and carbon compounds will play an important role during the composting process. Any organic matter pile is going to decompose eventually for feeding the soil; however, there is a rapid acceleration of the decomposition process once the carbon to nitrogen ratio becomes 30 to 1 in the compost pile.
4. These indications will let you know that the compost is ready
As a gardener, it will be imperative for you to look for hints to understand when the compost is ready. The materials are going to be unrecognizable and the compost file is going to shrink to 50% of the original size. As the ingredients in the pile are consumed by the microbes and raw ingredients are converted to compost, heat will be generated. It becomes warm to touch the interior of the pile which produces steam. Heat will no longer be produced once the compost becomes ready. Finally, the prepared compost will become crumbly and dark, producing a pleasant smell.
5. Get a feel of the pile
It will not be imperative for you to find out whether you have struck the proper balance between carbon and nitrogen. In case there is an excessive amount of attrition and the ratio is lower than normal, the pile is going to become stinky and slimy. In that case, it will be sensible on your part to add some carbon. If there is an excessive amount of carbon and the ratio is higher than normal, the pile will take a long time to decompose. In such a case, make sure to add nitrogen. Generally speaking, the bulk of the pile should be comprised of carbon-rich materials. For getting the best results, make certain to add carbon-rich ingredients approximately four times the amount of nitrogen-rich ingredients that have already been added by you. Here, we are talking about volume and not weight.
Instead of adding the nitrogen sources in little piles, make sure to add them in thin layers. This will help them to remain in touch with carbon-rich ingredients.
6. Cover the pile in carbon
In case you end up adding an excessive amount of carbon in the plié, the worst thing that might happen is that it will take a longer time for decomposition. The presence of additional leaves, grass clippings, and straw on the external part of the pile will aid in reducing smell and enhancing aesthetics. This can be considered to be a covering with composting activities happening below; it ought to be pulled back every time a fresh layer of compost materials is added. Make sure that it is at least 3 inches in thickness.
The external carbon layer is not going to decompose readily, and therefore, once the compost’s inner part has become dark make sure to get rid of it. It can be used in your subsequent pile as an ingredient.
7. Screen the compost
Once the process of composting has come to an end, several large particles will still be left behind that should not be mixed into the garden bed. These particles can be filtered out for creating something which will be ideal for using indoors or even outdoors. For this, it will be a good idea to purchase a compost sifter online or you can also make one on your own.
It is vital to bear in mind that compost is not a soil replacement, but a soil amendment. It is going to hold lots of water without providing any real structure. Compost will be most effective when applied at the surface of the soil or incorporated into the soil.
8. Store the compost till you need it
It will be possible to compost at any time even if you are gardening seasonally. In case you have a surplus amount of finished compost, make sure to store it after screening it. Ideal compost containers will not be suffocating the aerobic microbes since they happen to be breathable. Make use of plastic containers or woven bags featuring air holes in the sides. These containers should be stored in a cool and dry place till you become prepared for using compost in the garden.