The Ultimate Guide to Composting
It’s now been a few weeks since I started to include these guest articles on how to get the most from your garden shredder. Not surprisingly we have spent time looking at aspects of how the garden shredder adds to the green side of life through composting (I’ll upload a business case some other time on how a garden shredder saves money and time in other ways).
I expected this series of articles to continue for some time but, as you will see below, Steve Cownley’s article says just about everything that needs to be said on the subject of composting. As this site is all about electric garden shredder reviews I think we will let Steve have the last word on compost. Because of the length of this article we have split it in 2.
Composting – is it Just a Load of Rubbish?
Author: Steve Cownley
To Compost or Not to Compost
Well, there’s no doubt about it, composting is a good practice that any self-respected gardener should learn to do. But the question really is what materials we could make into a compost and which ones we cannot. We have been told that composting can be done with any organic material. Well, in theory that may be true, however, in real life it may not be always so.
There are a several organic materials that should not be included in the compost pile unless you know how to do it properly while there are other materials that should not even be attempted even by the experts. To compost or not to compost, that is indeed the question. And let’s see if we can provide the answers.
For home composters like you and me, we have a number of materials available inside our own home and even our own backyard. The big, industrial composters have a little advantage over us. They can compost more materials than us because they have the facilities to divert, mask, or absorb the odor that may come out from composting a lot of organic stuff. We don’t have the same luxury. We don’t want our neighbors organizing a protest rally against our composting in our own backyard, now do we?
Don’t let this worry you though, there are still a lot of materials that we could include in our compost pile. Let’s begin with something our front lawn is always dying to dispose off: excess grass. Yep, grass clippings from our lawn can be put to better use like for the compost file in our backyard. In situations where you have hay instead of grass clippings, that could work as well.
Using hay for composting is often practiced by farmers. You will find that farmers are more than willing to dispose of that hay. And when it comes to using hay for composting, be sure to pick the greener ones. Green hay means it still has a lot of nitrogen in it.
Others include kitchen wastes such as vegetable peels, fruit rinds, tea bags, eggshells and coffee grounds. These substances contain high levels of nitrogen. Make sure, however, to keep pests away from your kitchen wastes. Some would prefer to prepare a compost bin intended for their kitchen wastes. Others would prefer burying these wastes in eight inches of soil. And because they precisely attract pests, it would be best to stay avoid including scraps of meat, milk products and left over bones.
Wood chips, wood shaving, saw dusts, paper, and other wood products are generally good to included in your compost pile. However, be sure to stay away from chemically-treated wood products. Arsenic is one of the highly toxic chemicals that is sometimes used to treat wood. Using sawdust from such treated wood products is a no-no since the chemical will leak into the soil causing more harm than good.
Speaking of no-nos, there are other things that you should not include in your compost. Plants that died due to a disease should not be included. There is still a possibility that the disease the caused the death of the plants might infect your future plants.
And similarly, human, dog and cat wastes are not uses as composting materials as well precisely because they contain organisms that could cause disease. Such disease might cause people to be sick or might affect your plants.
Even though grasses can be used for composting, it would be best to avoid weeds like morning glory, ivy, sheep, and kinds of grasses that could grow in your compost pile. The weeds seeds also can survive the composting pile which can be carried to your new garden.
So going back to our earlier question: to compost or not to compost? Composting is something that is ideal for your garden. However, choosing the right materials will determine how successful your compost pile will be.
Top Reasons for Composting
Some of us may be hesitant in making and using compost. They find the task of making one troublesome and time consuming. Or they might have false perceptions of smelly compost piles and having such a messy process right in their backyards. While others would prefer buying their fertilizers, soil amendments or conditioners, and mulch from their garden stores to avoid all the hassle of reading about compost and actually making one.
Here are my top personal reasons for composting. I only hope that you move your butt out of that chair and begin your own compost pile before you reach number ten.
The first reason I find composting highly worthwhile is the fact that the materials used are absolutely free and are readily available. Compare that with the ever rising costs of commercial fertilizers and other gardening products in the market today. All you need is a little extra effort to find the best materials for your compost pile, but otherwise, everything’s for free.
The second one is that compost provides more nutrients and minerals needed by my plants than commercial organic or synthetic fertilizers. The overall effect of compost is also longer than commercially available fertilizers. It’s free and it works better, who wouldn’t want that? Plus, if you organize your ingredients just right, you can provide a whole lot more range of nutrients.
Another good reason would be the benefits of compost to the soil structure. When applied to the soil, compost can help the soil be more resistant to erosion, improve its retention of water, and in some types of soil (like clay) it can reduce the chance the soil becomes compact. This is also important for farmers since compost can make the soil easier to till conserving time and fuel needed to operate the machines.
With the right composting technique, the process can kill those troublesome weeds as well as pests and disease-causing organisms present in the materials being composted. High temperature composting is the technique I am talking about. Although, this technique is not the backyard variety but rather a more laboratory or industrial type variety, I still find it a good reason why we should make composts.
There have been studies which indicate that using compost can suppress the growth of diseases in crops. Other studies also show that crops grown over compost rich soils can resist better pest or insect attacks. Likewise, some news and observations in the field also shows that crops grown using compost bear produce that can be stored longer. If that’s not reason enough, I don’t know what else you are looking for.
For the environmentalists and conservationists, compost has something for them as well. Using compost together with the soil can build soil carbon which can eventually reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It may take a lot of compost to have a positive effect on the greenhouse gases but that fact is quite useful as well.
It is also found out that compost works well as an antidote for soils that are toxic with agricultural chemicals. Compost can balance the levels of soil acidity, and helps farmers to go organic after years of using synthetic agricultural products.
These are my top reason for composting. Some of it may not directly benefit my personal needs but having those reasons to cling onto is a good thing to motivate the use of compost.
Part 2 coming soon…
About the Author
Wide experience on many things and just publish information for fun.Experienced Salesperson and marketeer, both internet and non on-line. Web designer, very knowledgeable on PC and pc related issues, both hardware and software. Parent, driver and blogger.