Compost is a fertilizer made of organic matter, which can improve the quality of any soil, increase the harvest. For its preparation are suitable organic waste, which is always formed in private estates and cottage plots.
Depending on the chosen method of composting, humus from plants can mature from one month to several years.
What is compost made of?
Composting is a simple way to get environmentally friendly plant fertilizer without material costs. It is based on organic waste, which under certain conditions decompose under the influence of microorganisms.
The main raw material for the production of organic fertilizer:
- Waste generated by animals – manure, slurry, bird droppings, feed unsuitable for animal feeding.
- Wastes generated by growing plants – weeds, grass clippings, cut branches of bushes, fallen leaves, fruits, unfit for food.
- Agricultural plant processing waste – stiff stems of flax, hemp, corn cores, etc.
- Waste from wood processing industry – sawdust, shavings.
- Organic kitchen waste – food scraps (vegetable and fruit peelings, stumps), eggshells, tea, and coffee grounds.
You can add dried grass, ashes from a fire to the compost fertilizer. Paper, cardboard are pre-shredded so that they decompose faster in the compost. Good reviews get humus from the leaves of walnuts.
Raw material for fertilizer is conventionally divided into green and brown. Green material is characterized by a higher content of nitrogen, and brown – carbon. These components are necessary for the effective breakdown of organic matter with the help of microorganisms. In addition, compost requires water and oxygen.
The rate at which the fertilizer matures depends on the proportion of these important substances in the compost. The compost mould must be turned regularly to maintain a proper moisture level and oxygen supply.
What must not be added to the compost?
Organic fertilizer is beneficial if the rules for making it are followed. The production of compost, initially seemingly extremely simple, can be ruined by getting the wrong raw materials into the processing.
- Leaves, twigs of sick plants – infections do not die in compost, so there is a risk of infecting the new crop.
- Large parts of trees or parts of evergreens – they take a long time to decompose and slow down the ripening of the fertilizer.
- Weeds with seeds – composted humus will give growth to new weeds.
- Plants treated with poisons, various chemicals – they will kill the microorganisms that process the raw material.
- Inorganic material – glass, plastic decompose for decades and cannot be the basis for fertilizer.
- Organic animal waste in the form of fat, bones – this causes bad smells and slows the maturation of the fertilizer.
- Human and pet feces – animal feces are often infested with worms.
- Plants containing poisonous substances – foxglove, castor oil, lily of the valley, aconite, potato and tomato leaves cause the death of valuable bacteria in the fertilizer.
How you can make compost
The decomposition process depends on the microorganisms that are in the compost. They can be aerobic or anaerobic. In the first case, they need oxygen to carry out their life activity. In the second, the process can take place in an enclosed space without oxygen.
Anaerobic fertilizer is usually produced on an industrial scale. On private property, aerobic methods of making plant humus are most available.
Compost boxes, composters, containers, simple piles, and pits in backyards and vegetable gardens will be suitable for obtaining fertilizer.
Preparing fertilizer is one of the tasks faced by gardeners, who want to get a good harvest. Organic humus from plants, made with their own hands, brings a double benefit. In the course of composting, waste is disposed of, and a clean fertilizer is obtained.
Organic plant fertilizer contains a large set of useful trace elements such as nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and others. According to experienced gardeners, properly prepared humus significantly increases the fertility of the land and crops.
Where to begin
Obtaining organic humus will prove to be an easy task if you decide in advance on the method of composting. If it will be a compost pile, it is worth buying in advance the material with which it will have to be covered from the rain. A permeable material such as roofing felt would be good for this.
For organic composting you can dig a hole in which to compost the waste. The edges of the pit should be reinforced with concrete or planks to form a box.
It is possible to prepare fertilizer at any time of the year when there are available raw materials. However, fall is considered the most appropriate time of year because there is a lot of grass, leaves, which contain enough nitrogen and carbon.
Where to place the compost pot
First, select a place where the fertilizer will mature. For this, a shady place that is far enough away from trees is suitable. Otherwise, the root system of the plants will grow in the direction of the compost to get useful substances.
The compost pit or pile is placed in the back of the yard. At the same time, access to it must remain free. For normal decomposition, the compost mass should be stirred regularly to oxygenate it, and also watered on dry days to keep it moist. Waste material can be added to the compost as it accumulates.
The location of the future fertilizer, especially if it is a pit, should be far enough away from sources of drinking water. The ingress of products of decomposition into the water can change its taste and quality.
How to lay the layers correctly
Raw organic material should be shredded before being placed in the pile. This will facilitate the decomposition process and speed up the formation of the fertilizer. The shredded material is placed in small layers about 20 cm thick.
In the first layer put the organic waste. Dry grass, leaves, corn stalks, vegetable waste, paper, cardboard, etc. are suitable for this purpose. The second layer contains manure, mineral fertilizers, which serve as a source of nitrogen. The third layer is fertile soil. If there is a ready-made fertilizer, it is placed at the very bottom for the reproduction of bacteria.
Rough branches are placed at intervals, which are removed after the pile is formed. This helps air circulation.
How to speed up maturation
The natural process of converting organic waste into humus takes a long time. There are various ways to help speed up the maturation of the fertilizer.
Special preparations containing microorganisms involved in the processing of waste into compost.
They are completely safe, made from organic raw materials without chemical additives. Instructions for use are on the packages.
Yeast is a natural remedy for quickly obtaining compost from tree leaves. To prepare the solution, you need to dilute a tablespoon of yeast and 200 grams of sugar in one liter of water. The solution is then poured into a hole made in the fertilizer.
“Herbal infusion” is a homemade gas pedal of decomposition processes, which has many positive reviews. To prepare it, chopped grass and bird droppings are dissolved in water, insist for several days. Then the solution is poured into the compost heap.
Earthworms also help speed up the process of decomposition of organics.
How to tell if the compost is mature
The readiness of humus is determined by several characteristics:
- Compost fertilizer is homogeneous in composition, without fragments of organic waste in the form of peels, fruits, leaves, etc.
- The color of decomposed organic matter is dark brown.
- The texture of the fertilizer becomes loose and crumbly.
- The smell is reminiscent of the soil in the forest after the rain.
How to use it properly
The resulting leaf compost is used in much the same way as manure. It fertilizes the soil when digging, added to the holes before planting seedlings, seeds, put on the soil for mulching.
In autumn, the fertilizer is added to the soil on the beds when digging. You can use immature humus. Over the winter, the decomposition processes will complete, the raw material has time to decompose, and in the spring the garden will be ready for planting.
In spring, humus is poured into the furrows for sowing and mixed with soil. This helps seeds and seedlings germinate faster. Mature fertilizer is used as a mulch for trees and shrubs. It can also be used to mulch strawberries and other garden sprouts.
Compost humus is suitable for the arrangement of “warm beds”, made on the principle of a layer cake. In the bottom layer put the coarse remnants of plants, leaves, small branches.
The next layer is compost, manure, dry grass. The layers are repeated several times. A layer of soil is poured on top, and the entire bed is watered with water or solutions to accelerate decomposition. After that, cover with a film.
Compost humus is used to prepare a liquid solution for plant nutrition. Unripe fertilizer that has already had time to turn black is suitable for this. It is diluted with water and infused. After a few days, the solution for fertilizing the garden is ready.
Thus, almost any organic waste that is formed in every garden plot can be turned into a valuable fertilizer.