Monday, December 1, 2008

Compost Gold

Organic matter, such as yard and food wastes make up 23% of the waste generated in the United States. Composting is an effective, inexpensive, and natural way to handle this organic waste. Organic materials decompose in nature to feed soil and make it healthy. You can imitate nature in your own yard by composting your yard waste and kitchen waste.

Compost is a natural way of returning necessary nutrients to the soil. It's easy to start your own compost pile at home. Compost is an extremely versatile product. It has the ability to improve soil properties physically, chemically, and biologically.

Gardener's experiences with compost have shown healthier, faster, and heartier vegetation and plant growth. It works even when growing conditions are less than ideal.

Compost is produced through the activity of tiny organisms and fungi known as decomposers. When the pile is cool enough, worms, insects, and their relatives will help out the microbes. Given a favorable environment, they will break down your yard wastes and kitchen scraps into a humus-like material that can serve as an excellent soil amendment for your yard and garden.

Materials in the compost pile should always remain as damp as a squeezed sponge. A depression created at the top center of the pile will collect precipitation. Materials such as grass clippings tend to layer themselves, so create thin layers with other materials, such as leaves. Leaves and kitchen scraps are a good source of carbon, and grass clippings are the best source of nitrogen.

If you experience slow composting, adding more nitrogen can speed things up. Mix three parts leaves to one part grass, other green materials, or kitchen waste for best results. Remember you compost will only be as good as the materials you add. Make sure that you provide for a wide range of materials to have the best compost.

Compost is finished when it's a dark, rich color, crumbles easily, and you can't pick out any of the original ingredients. It should have a sweet, earthy smell.