If you have a passion for organic gardening, or even if you want to make your garden the best it can possibly be, then one of the most important things you can consider is garden compost. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the thought of creating your own compost, but it couldn't be easier. (It does take a bit of time, however.) Garden compost is basically a type of mulch or fertilizer that you can make yourself, thereby saving loads of money. Here are the basics for making your own garden compost.
Ready to use. As the yard trimmings are turning into compost there will be an out put of heat, so don't be surprised if the pile seems hot since it's supposed to be. On average the pile will be putting out around 150 degrees Fahrenheit in heat. As said earlier, you will need to turn and mix the compost every week to two weeks. The compost will be ready to use when, you can no longer readily see any identifiable yard trimmings, instead the compost should look like a large pile of steaming, or hot dirt.
- Process. There are two basic types of composting process that you can use: aerobic and anaerobic. The major difference between aerobic and anaerobic composting is whether the microbes that break down the composting materials require air (aerobic) or not (anaerobic).
- Where. The best location for your compost pile is actually somewhere fairly close to the garden. Typically you will want to avoid using an old fire pit because the ash and coal in the pit may contain chemicals and compounds that are harmful to plants. If you take the time to restore the soil of a fire pit prior to using it as a compost site, then it will be OK to use.
- Storage. There are basically two different ways that you can create your compost. One is by simply digging a whole, or making a pile near your garden. This method will allow the aerobic microbes to work on the potential compost, while also allowing an easier way for turning and mixing the compost. The second way is through using a relatively airtight container, such as a trash can. This method will allow you to be able to keep potential rodents and pests out of your compost, while still allowing the anaerobic microbes to turn your yard trimmings into compost.
- Materials. When creating your compost pile, only use certain kinds of organic materials. Avoid materials that could create an odor problem, which may in turn attract bugs and rodents. Also avoid using any organic materials that may have been treated with chemicals, as this could harm your plants when you use the compost in the garden. For a complete list of safe materials to use for garden compost, see the EPA's website: http://www.epa.gov/waste/conserve/rrr/composting/basic.htm.
- Layering. When starting your composting to get the best results use a method called layering. The first layer of your compost pile needs to be regular fertilizer, since it contains many of the necessary elements that the microbes need to grow. After laying down the fertilizer, go ahead and start layering your yard trimmings and other kinds of safe organic materials. Over time the garden compost will become more compact; simply add more yard trimmings to the pile till it is where you want it to be. Regularly water the pile to keep it moist, and every two weeks you need to turn the pile and mix it together. This helps promote the decay process.