Written By: Better Backyards
Organic, is described in my dictionary as:- (a) Of, pertaining to, or derived from living organisms. (b) Using or grown with fertilisers and mulches consisting only of animal or vegetable matter, with no use of chemicalfertilisers or pesticides.
Now we have the technical version out of the way, let us look at the best example of all, given us courtesy of “mother nature”. Have you ever walked into the forest or woods and seen lying, on the ground, dead leaves, twigs/branches and so on, and have you seen them decaying, possibly with various insects on or around the area? These insects together with various micro-organisms, help the break down of materials ( dead matter) to a state whereby it can be absorbed as goodness to the plants around. So we can say that is organic matter!!
People often ask, why do I need compost? The easy answer, is, that it helps to break up heavy soil or clay, as well as enhancing the soil, compost will enrich the vegetables, flowers and plants that you wish to grow. Sucessful gardening is with the use of compost in the growing stages of all types of plants from carrots to chrysanths or rhododendrons to radish, helping all types of plants to receive the nourishment necessary. Compost, is decomposition of other plants which having already absorbed nitrogen and carbon from the ground, and also carbon dioxide from the air, breaks down the elements, and is used to nourish the new plants you wish to grow.
So you say, how do we start to make compost?, whilst there are many people who are composting at the moment, many people have to start somewhere as I myself had to learn!!
The first thing necessary is a means to restrict the area in which to make your compost and this can be carried out in various ways a)you can purchase a compost bin, which can be bought a most garden centres, b) you can just pile the material, which is ok if you have an area that you do not use, c) build an enclosure of any material which has had NO PRESERVATIVES or similar treatment, as this may kill off the insects and organisms you wish to attract. Next you need to pick a position that allows it sunshine, also it is close for putting on the materials and at times to add water, (remember out in the forest all that decaying matter, feels wet to the touch). moisture will be needed at times, as once the process of composting begins, a substantial amout of heat can be generated.
Always remember that once you start to compost, you are not only helping the enviroment, but you are also starting to save yourself money, for no longer do you have to transport or pay to have these waste products disposed of, also in helping your crops/flowers to grow you are not having to buy “grow faster/better products”, as it is all of your own “making”.
Composting, by placing your waste products in layers, is a natural process and occurs over a period of time, not overnight, if you add a layer of good soil, or if you already have some materials decomposing add these to the top, for you are introducing active organisms, so helping to speed the process. you may also consider turning your “pile” as this will put some of the organisms at the top allowing further organisms to enter as the base. So the question now is, how do you know the decomposition is working? There are various indicators, from the colour (which tends towards brown or darker), the “pile” appears to be warm in the middle, organisms,insects, or even earthworms around the area, the most noticeable of all, being the size of the pile decreasing, whilst it can be said, that bigger is better, the size of the plot will determine how large you can make the “pile”. The outside of the composting materials act as an insulator for those at the heart, grass cuttings or any green materials tend to attract the organisms required quicker than brown, which helps the materials decompose faster.
Now you are having nature help you, you begin to understand how you can in turn help nature. By using your compost you are creating an organic system. No need for chemicals or fertilizers which is definitely a no-no. If you look to an agicultural farm, you will see that different crops are grown the following year, this being due to the different nutrients required by different crops, so you too can increase the speed up of decomposition by adding farm manure to your composting.
Now when the compost is ready, you need to decide how to use it! With all the nutrients and organisms it can be used in many different ways, either by spreading directly on to your garden or mixing with the existing ground soil,or you can remove some of the topsoil, putting down a layer of compost in preparation for your vegetables, alternatively if you are about to lay a new lawn, (or even repair an old lawn) mix it with the top 4 to 6 inches of the top soil, before seeding or turfing, ix it in the topsoil around the base. For larger trees add compost around the outer leaf area where most of the rain will fall off the tree. As the nutrients can be diluted with water you could put some of your compost in a porous bag/sack, and stand it in some water giving you a liquid “manure” to spread on more delicate plants.
Whilst these are some of the uses, I have seen the use of compost in many ways, such as mulching, which I have on another page as I am sure by now you wish to “dash out and give it a whirl” due to the pleasant weather??