Cooking...In the Compost PileMar 8, 2001 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in GardenThe Bottom Line Compost Activators work but mother nature has already provided us with some natural ones that don't cost a dime. As for me I'll save the money for something else.
Ok so you want to know what to do to speed up your compost and are considering an activator. Well let me start by saying that you donít need to go spending a lot of money. In fact you donít have to spend any at all.
Composting will take place with any organic material eventually. The way to make it cook however is to give it what it needs. There are six ingredients that are essential to composting. air, water, time, space, brown waste and green waste. All these are simple except of course waste.
Brown waste is material such as branches, twigs, paper and other materials that tend to be dry. These should make up about half of any pile and are readily available in most households. Green waste includes grass clippings fruits and vegetables and pieces and other items which will become brown waste eventually but still have a fair supply of nitrogen in them. Note that nitrogen is key because you can substitute for it if you are lacking green material which tends to happen more during winter months when the lawn doesnít need mowing.
Now that we have our ingredients let me help you to get it cooking by giving you some useful tricks to help your compost along without spending much. Begin by starting the base of a pile with paper or leaves which will form the material sitting immediately on the ground and serve to catch any material as it begins to decompose.
The next layer should consist of coarser material, this would include things like small branches corn cobs and larger pieces of cardboard. This helps to get air into your pile where it cooks. Another alternative is to place a post in the center of your pile, which not only lets air come in from holding the material apart some, but also lets moisture down into the pile.
The next layer should be made up primarily of smaller bits and pieces. Grass clippings, leaves, food scraps and even paper shredded. This material will absorb and hold the moisture over the air pockets and also the heat that the decomposition creates.
Whereas this is ample to get a pile going especially with repeating layers, I recommend adding soil between every other layer or so or even better yet some already prepared compost. This will add all the necessary bacterias and other microscopic ingredients to speed along the decomposition process. This is where many would add an activator, but what is an activator but a supply of soil with bacteria and microscopic organisms to eat away at the organic material. Want to know what makes a great activator? Beer, the yeast helps to feed the bacteria just like it does when making bread.
Rather than spending money on activators you are usually better off simply giving it a little nitrogen boost from time to time and keeping the moisture damp but not drenched. One way to help boost your moisture level is by mixing a little everyday dish soap to the water you wet your pile down with. The dish soap will help the water to stick to leaves and twigs just like it does when spraying insecticides or even herbicides. If you really want to get your pile to start breaking down faster you could add some bloodmeal to it. It is inexpensive and it will help attract earthworms to your pile and they can quickly eat their way through a compost pile giving you some wonderful soil full of nutrients your plants are going to just love.
Another way that you may want to consider to get your pile cooking faster is to make the pieces smaller. A chipper shredder will make quick work of small branches and also reduce leafs to pieces that take a lot less time to break down.
Last but not least you can consider covering your pile with hay or straw or even plastic if you get lots of rain. The straw, hay or plastic helps to trap the heat within your pile and prevents the pile from receiving too much rain, which could make your pile stink from the rotting process and sort of cool the baking process going on beneath the surface. The only additional thing there is to add is to turn your pile to help spread the bacteria around.
For more information on composting check out my review- Waste not Want not
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