Since we're in the middle of planting season, we thought we'd remind
everyone of the power of compost.
Secrets of Composting
Composting is a natural process
that's been going on for thousands of years. Yard trimmings--whether grasses,
leaves, brush or tree limbs--all contain microorganisms as well as earthworms,
centipedes and other organisms that if the conditions are right, munch on the
green waste, eventually "composting" it into nutrient-rich soil.
Compost plays a large role in making plants stronger and healthier and even
makes their fruit much tastier.
Here are some tips when filling
your green waste recycling bin. Toss in "green" waste (i.e., grass
clippings, other plant materials) that is high in nitrogen and "brown
waste" (i.e., dry leaves, straw, twigs, sawdust and wood chips) that is
high in carbon. Leave out plants treated with herbicides, manure, meats, fats,
oils, dairy products and charcoal ash--and of course, any plastics, metals and
The Composting Process
The composting process is the
same whether composting at home or by a professional composting company. It all
begins with creating alternating layers of green and brown materials that are
then mixed together.
At-home composting piles should be about 3 to 4 feet high. Professional
composting operations create long composting rows of over 8 feet high. No
matter the size, in just one to three days, the temperature in the pile rises--a
sign that the microorganisms are doing their job.
When the temperature drops after
a week or so, the pile is turned and moistened. This effort brings fresh oxygen
to the microorganisms so they can continue breaking down the waste. Any dry
materials are moved to the center of the pile.
Once the pile is turned and
remoistened, the temperature of the pile will raise again. The ideal compost
temperature is at least 131 degrees. This level of heat will kill most weeds
and disease-causing organisms.
When the microorganisms have
finished their work, the compost pile will have a dark, rich look. The compost then
"cures" before it can be used in garden beds around trees and in
Compost has many benefits to farmers, landscapers and
backyard gardeners. Compost has a naturally high nutrient content, retains
water, prevents soil erosion and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. Farmers use compost for enhancing both row
crops and orchards. Landscapers use compost as a soil amendment and for decorative
purposes on commercial and private properties. Public agencies including cities
and school districts use compost for landscaping parks, median strips, football
fields, schoolyards and recreational areas. Homeowners use compost to enrich
gardens and improve the soil around trees and shrubs. And, by using compost, we
all keep green waste out of landfills, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
For more information about composting, go to
Labels: compost, compost awareness week, value of compost