Compost can be anything that is organic in nature. Besides leaves and manure, other organic matter may also be used and combined to create compost or plant fertilizer. Compost is considered the more environmentally friendly alternative to commercially produced fertilizers because they have not been manufactured using techniques or materials that may have been dangerous to the environment.

Advantages of Using Compost

To be more motivated about making your own compost - which can be a somewhat dirty and exhausting process - you should be aware of the various advantages you stand to enjoy when using compost in your garden.

  • It is affordable. Compost is something you can easily create on your own and using materials that you either already have or can easily obtain for free. Compared to other fertilizers, compost that have been pre-mixed or pre-made by local gardening shops is still more affordable.
  • It is healthier for your plans. If you truly want the best for your plants, then of course you should make use of compost instead of commercial fertilizers. With compost, you enjoy the complete assurance that your plants are not exposed to any toxic contaminant in exchange for being fertilized.
  • It is effective. This is the greatest advantage of all. Most people are understandably wary about affordable alternatives since they often offer less desirable results or products of lower quality. But compost is different. In fact, you get more than what you have “paid” for. Compost is effective for improving
    the texture, structure and aeration of soil as well as its storage capacity for water. Compost also produces a healthy and balanced amount of nutrients that can help plants thrive and grow beautifully.
  • It can work alone. With other commercial fertilizers, you often have to combine use of several products before your plants can enjoy good health. With compost, however, you get an all-in-one product that will make both plants and soil sufficiently healthy for a great harvest.

Steps to Making Compost

And now, without further ado, here are the steps to make your own compost at home.

Step 1: Choose where you want to make your own compost. You can either build your own compost box or buy a pre-made one in your local gardening store. The ideal compost box should come with its own cover or lid, have no gaps or holes at any side, and may have its insulation enhanced with either straw or cardboard.

As for the location of the compost box, it must be anywhere that you will find easily accessible from both your garden and home. Secondly, your compost box must be placed right on top of your garden’s soil but far away from any source of water. Lastly, it must be in a place that receives a good amount of lighting although partial shade is also sufficient.

Step 2: Start gathering what you want your compost to be made of. Organic matter that comes from any dead living thing would always do just as long as it is not any kind of cooked food which could attract the wrong kind of insects and pests to your garden.

Always aim for variety. The more varied the composition of your compost is, the more help it can provide for your garden. So besides organic matter, look for other green and brown sources like weeds, mown grass, and rotten parts of plants. Be sure that there is a balance between the brown & green stuff that you use!

If you are using kitchen waste, you can make it less attractive to pests by combining it with household paper products.

Step 3: Place all materials or matter into the compost box. The initial layer should be at least 30 centimetres tall. Continue adding as you find more materials ideal for making compost.

Step 4: Wait for the materials to naturally “compost”. The lowest layer would compost first, of course, so you can take that out first if possible.

Step 5: Add new materials to replace removed layers.

Follow these steps to the letter, and you will end up with something unimaginably rich, sweet, and darkly beautiful with just the right amount of “crumbliness”. And no, it is not chocolate but instead, you have produced the best compost of all for your garden.

Many things can go into the compost heap: the vines of peas and beans, fresh hedge clippings, pea-pods, tea-leaves and coffee-grounds, banana peel, fluff from the vacuum cleaner, straw, lawn mowings, fallen leaves, and even well-soaked newspapers. It is important not to use obviously diseased plant material.

Whatever the material, encourage it to rot down properly by using some type of activator. This can be animal excreta, the droppings from birds such as poultry or, when these are not available, fish meal or a brand-name activator. The compost heap is built up in layers of the vegetable waste with a sprinkling of the activator and soil between layers.

An easy method is to make a bottomless bin of boards or of wire netting in which the vegetable waste can be collected and raked level. The size of the bin will depend on the size of the garden. For a small garden the bin may be 4 ft. by 4 ft., preferably with a reserve bin; and for a garden of half an acre, 6 ft. by 6 ft. with perhaps a reserve bin nearby. For a garden of an acre it may be 8 ft. by 8 ft. and have two reserve bins alongside.

There is all the difference in the world between a rubbish heap and a compost heap. A rubbish heap is merely a collection of .vegetable waste, and may be the breeding ground for pests and diseases, as well as a place where weed seeds are stored but not killed. In a properly made compost heap the temperature will rise to 82 C. It is then that the actinomycetes (rod-shaped bacteria) break down the more resistant proteins and carbohydrates in the heap. The temperature may remain high for a month and then; as the heap cools, the bacteria complete the task of breaking down the organic material until it is first-rate compost.

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