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Using Organic Compost

By: James Murray-White - Updated: 18 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Compost Essence Nature Demonstration

Compost is actually nature’s demonstration of the organic process of decomposition and renewal.

While it cannot be said that compost is itself always organic – because everything that goes into its composition would need to be checked and verified as such; the process of the breakdown of the raw ingredients of compost is itself organic. This is because micro-organisms break down the ingredients and turn them into something new, which is in itself a reviving, natural fertiliser for the soil.

Making Good Quality Compost

Well-rotted compost is beneficial for everything that grows. Whether its made by an experienced gardener with an allotment or acres of land for large scale vegetable and flower production, or for someone with just a few window boxes at home, compost can be added to soil anywhere and everywhere. Compost replaces nutrients that have been used by growing plant material, and renews the earth.

It has been estimated that 35% of the average household’s weekly rubbish is kitchen scraps that could be used instead to create compost. All raw fruit and vegetable peelings, tea bags, coffee grounds, dust, hair and torn up cardboard should be put in a compost bin. Never put any meat or dairy products, or the litter from a pets litter tray.

What’s Needed to Kick-Start Compost?

Compost bins can be easily made from either an old pallet, or some old planks of wood. The design and instructions can easily be found by searching on the Internet, or by visiting any local allotment and talking with an experienced gardener. For a less labour-intensive method, large plastic compost bins can be purchased cheaply through garden centres.

Some councils across the UK give away free plastic compost bins to households, as part of their schemes to reduce waste disposal in their area. Check with your local Council to see if this is available. Also, many areas across the UK run ‘Good Composting’ schemes to demonstrate the process and answer any questions participants may have. Basically, a small area of land is needed to situate the compost bin.

It is a good idea to rake the land over, to allow the compost inside the bin to have direct contact with the soil. In this way, worms will be attracted up through the topsoil to start digesting what they find amongst the scraps. Worms can also be added occasionally to the compost bin.

Some gardeners choose to have 2 compost bins, so that when one is filled, its lid can be sealed, or covered in some way (a piece of old carpet is a good lid for a homemade compost bin made out of wood), and the second bin can be filled while the first works its magic.

Other things that can fill the bin are shredded paper, grass cuttings, plant clippings, leaves, and any other material that has derived from a living plant. It is a good idea to create layers of each material in the compost bin, like a sandwich. This allows free movement for the organisms within the bin. Keep the bin moist inside, but not too dry or soaking wet.

Different compost systems take different times to decompose fully. Once the lid is closed, depending on the materials inside, the energy of the organisms eating, digesting and excreting it, and the external temperature, once the lid is on it could take anything from 3 months to 6 months to get a fine crumbly compost that is broken down enough to mix into the soil. Basically, the longer the compost is left, the better consistency it will become.

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