How Long Does It Take To Make Compost?
Your plants need fertilizer to be healthy. Fertilizers supply necessary nutrients your plants need that may be either lacking in the soil they were planted in or supplemental to the nutrients already in the soil. Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium are three nutrients found in soil that plants need for growth.
Using compost is an eco-friendly and environmentally safe alternative to these chemical fertilizers. You not only help the environment, you also improve your garden soil.
What is compost?
Compost is nutrient-rich organic material that is often used as garden fertilizer. It is added to soil to replenish the soil’s lost nutrients and supplements available nourishment for the plants. Plants thrive better with compost.
Compost is the end product of decomposing organic (waste) materials, often food scraps, in an enclosed container or bin. Food scraps and other organic wastes are piled, one on top of another, in an enclosed bin and allowed to decompose. The decomposition is done with the natural aid of small insects, worms, and some microscopic bacteria and fungi that process and break down the organic particles.
What food items (or other) can and cannot be composted?
There is a general principle involved in composting: Compost is a mixture of browns, greens, and water. Browns refer to dried twigs, leaves, and any other material derived from them. Greens refer to leaves, cut grass, and all other food scraps you may include (because not all) in your compost pit. Water refers to water, and any other liquid material you may add; this includes moisture that is generated within the composting bin.
What you should not include in your compost are animal poop, oils of various kinds, milk and milk products, leftover animal bones (e.g., beef, pork, chicken, etc.) diseased and pesticide treated plant appendages. These materials may create problems attracting scavenging animals, creating too much unpleasant odor, and needless interference with the process of natural decomposition.
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How do I start a compost pit?
There are two ways to get a compost pit started. One is by buying a compost bin. The other way is by building one or improvising available materials to make a compost bin.
There are many ways you can improvise to make a backyard compost bin. The most basic type is pit composting. Pit composting is done in a deep pit (where its name comes from) on the ground.
After the pit is dug out, organic material is piled one on top of another. This is then covered with soil and left to mature. After some time, when it is ready, the compost is dug out from the pit. But you may also construct the compost pit out of wood or concrete.
How often do I need to turn the compost?
You know when active decomposition of your compost pile is taking place: it gets hot. A hot pile needs to be turned with a pitchfork, on the average, every three days or perhaps, at least, weekly. This is in order for air to get incorporated into the compost pile and to get the other organic material into the ‘heat of the battle’, those that are left on the sides.
The compost pile is air-assisted decomposition. That’s why turning the pile occasionally is important. This enables bacteria and other beneficial micro-organisms to do their work more efficiently. This also prevents the build up of ammonia.
How long does it take to compost?
Depending on the method you use your compost may be ready in 1 – 2 months, or it may take a year. There are composting techniques that take shorter and others that take longer to mature. Hot turn piles, which are turned every other day, can take only 21 days to be ready.
But others take longer. Slow turn bins, as they are called, can take up to 12 months before the compost becomes ready. While worm aided bins will take only from 1 – 3 months.
How do I know if the compost is ready?
Knowing when the compost is ready is not as difficult as it may sound, depending on how you did your composting. If you consider the hot pile mentioned above, one indication that the compost is already mature and ready for harvesting is that it has stopped heating up. Once the compost pile has stopped heating up (you can tell by turning) it is almost ready.
Leave the compost pile for a week or two to cure. This indicates that the bacteria responsible for decomposing the pile have now passed on and a new set of micro-organisms have taken their place These new micro-organisms continue to decompose the pile but with little or no heat. A physical examination of the compost material must show a brown, crumbly, and earthy smelling material.
What are the benefits of using compost?
There are a number of benefits that can be cited with the use of compost. But if we would consider the benefit of compost to the plant…
1) Compost is organic. Is made of essentially the same basic building blocks as plants. And it has been processed in a way that nature designed. Compost is therefore the ideal fertilizer to use for plant health.
2) Compost is nutrient-rich. It draws its nutrient density not only from the organic materials that have gone in its production. But the process involved in it guarantees compost to be nutrient-rich.
3) Compost is rich in the three main components of soil necessary for plant health, namely, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. It is also rich in micro-nutrients and trace minerals necessary for plant growth, namely, Sulfur, Carbon, Magnesium, and Calcium to name some.
Some other benefits of using compost are:
1) Compost is the most environmentally-friendly type of fertilizer you can use in your garden.
2) Compost is the most environmentally-friendly approach to household waste disposal. Many of your regular household waste, e.g., food scraps, can go right into the compost bin instead of land fills and all.
If you decide on using fertilizer in your garden, for your plants, invest in compost. You can buy compost in most garden supply stores. But better still, make your own compost right in your own backyard. In a month or a bit more, you would have contributed to preserve the environment from pollutants, and you have contributed to improve the small amount of space in your own backyard called your garden.