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Composting 101

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You may have heard about compost and the benefits that can occur.  Compost is a mixture of different organic substances that can be recycled, such as yard clippings, leaves, twigs, and kitchen waste.  As long as the items can be decomposed, then it can be used in compost.  Many people have started using organic material in the form of compost in order to save money and to help the environment.  It also gives the user a rich garden soil that has many nutrients.  

Many gardeners refer to compost as “black gold” because it is such a wonderful fertilizer.  Organic materials that have been through the composting process will produce a wonderful mixture that fills the plants or yard with minerals and other nutrients.  You can mix compost with all types of soil to help your plants grow.  Clay soil is the easiest to work with when adding compost because a larger variety of plants can be planted.  If you are using sandy soil, compost can help store the moisture.

The process of composting involves using four types of components.  The key features are organic materials, correct moisture release, enough oxygen for the plants to go grow, and sufficient bacteria.  The organic contents provide the food for the plants.  A successful compost should have a mixture of brown additives and green material.  The brown materials can be leaves, twigs, and animal manure.  For the green content, use grass clippings, coffee grounds, fruit rinds, hedge trimmings, and waste from vegetables.  

The brown content will provide the oxygen for the mixture, while the green adds nitrogen.  Try to have an equal amount of both.  If you end up with a compost that has more brown content than green, then you can add fertilizer to make up the difference.  This will add nitrogen and help to speed up the process of decomposing.  Sometimes it helps to chop or shred up the pieces even more into smaller particles.  This will help to make the decomposition process go quickly.  

The proper moisture in the compost is important.  It should have the same amount of moisture that a sponge has when it has been wrung out.  If the compost becomes too dry, then the decomposition process will slow down.  You can add a little water to the pile during times of dry or hot weather or when a lot of brown material has been added to the pile to keep the process moving. 

If the compost becomes too wet, you can turn the pile to mix the materials together and spread the moisture to the correct places.  You can also counteract it by adding organic materials that are dry to help correct the issue.  Oxygen will help breakdown the materials by utilizing the bacteria.  You can help add oxygen to the pile by turning the compost around the outer edges.  This will also prevent odors from developing.  You should continue to turn the pile every two weeks for the best results.  Composting is a very easy technique and can be done sufficiently in your own backyard.

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