STILL WATER – One of the foundations for success in the garden is good soil. For those who don’t yet have nutrient-rich soil, composting can be an answer that also reduces the amount of waste that ends up in local landfills.
Compost is a natural, dark brown, humus-rich material that is created by the decomposition or decomposition of organic matter such as leaves, grass clippings, vegetable debris and twigs, said David Hillock, consumer horticulturist with the Oklahoma State University Extension.
“Not only is it a great addition to your garden beds or pots, but it also saves resources on community waste disposal as these things are now composted instead of sent to the landfill,” he said. “Compost can be used to improve soil structure, increase the water-holding capacity of sandy soil, loosen clay soils and improve drainage, help with erosion control, mulch landscaped plants to retain moisture, and much more.”
Garden waste, particularly grass waste, is typically high in nutrient content. In composting, bacteria use air and water to break down plant materials into compost. This is ideal when used as a mulch or as a soil conditioner.
Although commercial composting bins can be purchased, gardeners can make their own instead. The simplest method is to make a pile of compost material in a secluded space in the countryside – for example, in the farthest corner of a yard.
Another option is to build a constraining structure 3 to 5 feet in diameter and 4 feet high. Hillock suggested using existing materials like concrete blocks, wire mesh, boards, old pallets, or even old trash cans with ventilation holes.
Once the structure is put together, start layering your green and brown materials. With spring in full swing, many people are cleaning their yards and flower beds so there should be plenty of compost material, ”he said.
Leftovers like vegetable peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, and tea leaves can also be used. Do not use materials such as large twigs, diseased plants, weeds that produce abundant seeds, animal or human waste, fatty foods and fat, meat, dairy products, bones, or fish.
Hillock said alternating layers of material help ensure the correct amounts of carbon and nitrogen required for decomposition. With water and air, bacteria and insects use the compost as a source of food and energy. The process generates heat in the range of 140 to 160 F. Ventilation is done by turning the stack every week. First, moisten the material thoroughly and then sprinkle it with water regularly.
The more you turn, the more air is available to the bacteria, which makes the composting process faster. If the temperature of the pile remains at ambient temperature even after turning and the material is dark and easily crumbling, the process is complete.
“It usually takes about four to six months to complete the process. If the compost heap starts now, you will have a great soil improvement ready when you plant your fall garden, ”he said.