Babette Lecocq Gardens May 24th 2020, 06:12:44
Most gardeners are aware of many of the reasons to compost, but some struggle with making enough compost for their use. Here are some tips for getting your garden composter working faster.
For most of us there is no such thing as too much compost. Compost is a great addition to the soil for a variety of reasons. Compost improves the structure of the soil, allowing it do drain better even while it retains water better. Another benefit of compost is the buffering of soil pH so that it is nearer the desired pH around 6.5. Sifted compost is a good seed starting medium, great for those small seeds like carrots.
While the exact ratio of high carbon to high nitrogen materials doesn’t have to be exact, it does help to make sure that we don’t have too much of one or the other. Using just lawn clippings alone or just fall leaves is too much of one thing. Try about an even mix of brown and green materials for your composter, and it should heat up without overheating and smelling.
Breaking down the physical size of the pieces of compost material for your pile will help speed it up. This reduces the amount the material needs to be broken down and improves the effectiveness by exposing the insides of the material. Break down the big stalks and branches with a pruner or saw, and chop up smaller material by running the mower over it. You may want to buy a small chipper shredder to do a thorough job.
A batch approach works best for fast compost. Once you have a pile working, start another pile or keep your kitchen waste in a kitchen compost pail. You may want to have a smaller bin on the patio, and transfer the contents to a larger working bin in the yard for the fast composting.
The more often you can turn the pile, the more active it will be and the faster the compost will break down. This has the dual advantage of bringing fresh composted material into the hotter center of the pile, while improving the airflow throughout the pile as well, refreshing the oxygen supply to the microbial activity in the hot middle of the pile.
The ideal moisture level is a pile that is like a damp cloth. It should not be soaked, as that can cause a slimy, smelly pile, and too little moisture will just bring the activity of the pile to a stop. This leads to the need to make sure you can keep water from getting in during times of heavy rains. With these tips in mind, you should be able to make more of that black gold this garden season.