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Organic compost is expensive. Making your own compost is not difficult. Good compost can be made from any garden debris. Worm farms or worm boxes are another way to make great compost. While many people load all their garden waste into a bakkie and take it to the dump, this is planet unfriendly and a waste of good materials. Even a small garden can take advantage of the so called garden rubbish. If space is a proble a compost box is the answer. Most of your kitchen scraps can go into your compost – egg shells, bones – the whole lot. While woody stems and egg shells will take longer – everything finally composts. Certainly all left over vegetables and table scraps – if you keep chickens at home it would be better to feed them the garden scraps, and even better, is that chicken droppings make fantastic compost.

For vegetation to turn into compost it needs time. The pile of compost to be should be piled in a heap – preferably in the sun. It should be kept damp and will need to be turned every now and again. (although there are gardeners who swear that not turning their compost does no harm) The key to good compost is heat and moisture. The inside of the compost heap will warm up very quickly in the sun, and with the moisture. the magic happens. Larger branches should be chopped up – a garden chipper is often the easiest way to do this.

Commercial compost producers use a thermometer with a long probe – which they poke into the pile – when the temperature is between 57 degrees C and 71 degrees C, the heat cause the break down of vegetation at a higher rate – and also what happens is that weed seeds are killed – meaning that the organic compost can be used without spreading unwanted weeds. While high temperatures cause nitrogen loss they also kill parasites and eggs of flies and stops the bacterial processes – this is not a good thing – so when the temperature of your compost gets too high it should be turned – or aerated. A drop in temperature, before the material has stabalised -when the pile has not been turned means it is becoming anaerobic – and needs to be aerated. Adding more water does not drop the temperature – unless you really soak the mass of compost – and this is not a good idea – better to keep it moist and turn the compost when the temperature climbs too high.

While all this may seem very scientific – making compost is relatively easy – and just piling it as high as you can and watering it occasionally, and turning it regularly is enough for most home compost piles. There are compost boxes, or compost bins available – which make the whole process less messy. A small compost bin will make compost in about 3 months – while a large compost pile can take up to 6 months for the whole composting process to finish. Worms can be added to speed thing up – and worm boxes that make compost are ideal for small gardens. Worm compost is highly effective and easy to make. Naturally – if you want organic compost you will need to only use organic matter – all the inputs need to be organic, if you are using chicken litter – the chickens will need to have been organic chickens – and all the old vegetables will have to have been grown in an organic way.

2 Responses to Compost

  1. Pingback: Worm Boxes and worm compost | Organics South Africa

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