Making your compost is one of those green activities that has many benefits. The organic matter produced fertilizes the soil for better productivity while eliminating food waste that would otherwise go into the trash or recycling. About 40% of the contents of an average bin can be used for compost. This humus-rich source of nutrients is a great way to improve soil and plant growth. Regular spreading will prevent you from using chemical fertilizers that harm insects and other animals by disrupting the food chain. You will also save water because the earth thus nourished dries less quickly.
You can produce your compost by collecting organic waste covered in cardboard or tarpaulin in a garden corner. Compost bins are, however, cleaner and easier to manage. Some municipalities are starting to provide them to their citizens for a small fee. Otherwise, buy them in a garden center or make your own out of reclaimed wood. Those equipped with turning handles allow accelerating the process of degradation without much effort. If you have room, plan for at least two, so the waste will decompose in one while you fill the other. Whichever type you choose, it should have a cover or hood.
CHOICE OF LOCATION
Some people think of the composter as a wart and isolate it out of sight. Having to run to the bottom of the garden to throw food waste in the cold or the rain is hardly encouraging. Make sure that the pile or the bin is easily accessible. For best results, the compost should sit directly on the bare ground or the grass, in a sunny to the semi-shaded area, but not completely in the shade. Avoid places that are too humid.
THE MANUFACTURE OF COMPOST
Making compost is not difficult if you bring in the right ingredients. Add your waste on the job or in the trash at your own pace. However, it will take time (sometimes up to a year) to obtain a useful result, and this final product is not very pleasant to handle. To quickly obtain quality compost, you have to think about it carefully and make some efforts. The ideal compost will have a grainy texture, a black color, and a sweetish odor. It is important to ensure the balance between green and brown matter (the former decomposing faster by expelling the air while the latter ventilate the mixture). Alternate green and brown layers accordingly, or add a large mass of brown matter from time to time. A well-filled composter starts quickly, while progressive filling may slow down or even block it. Decomposition will accelerate if you turn the composter upside down regularly. Mix the contents with a fork and if the whole is too soft, add brown matter. If it is too dry, water it. Manure and potting soil can also help.
The compost is ready when the contents of the bin or pile are dark brown, grainy and earthy in appearance. It can take anywhere from six weeks to a year. Once this stage is reached, let it mature again for a month before spreading it in the garden. Besides, making compost does not pose a health risk if you follow a few basic rules: put on gloves, apply a bandage to the wounds and wash your hands after touching the compost.
Any organic matter is good to take, with a few exceptions. Meat, dairy products, and ready meals should not be poured into the composter as they will attract rats or other pests. You can add value to a cat, rabbit or guinea pig litter, but without the animal’s excrement. Avoid sick plants, especially if the disease comes from the ground or invasive weeds such as bindweed or little angelica.
Balancing the volumes of green and brown waste is essential. The former is made up of the mowing remains. They “start” the composter very quickly. Used alone, however, they turn into a foul “porridge”. The second such as pruning waste (branches and twigs) decompose more slowly and give a more compact mixture. The branches can be shredded or reduced to small pieces, otherwise, the compost will take too long to be done.
– Grass cut.
– Raw vegetable peelings.
– Young wild grasses, without their seeds; avoid perennial weeds like bindweed.
– Green residues of the size.
– Horse, cattle, poultry manure.
-Residues of cuts and sizes, shredded or cut into small pieces.
– Chips and sawdust.
-Paper and cardboard.
– Straw and hay.
– Dead leaves, possibly to be used as mulch (see p. 168).
– Crushed eggshells.
– Natural fabrics, 100% wool or cotton.
Mulching plants is a valuable way to enrich these soils. It suffices to mix an organic mulch or not (no more than 5 cm deep) at their feet to fertilize the soil, provide thermal insulation, discourage the weed and retain moisture.
In the past, this organic soil was often composed of peat. Unfortunately, this is not a renewable resource and should not be recommended for environmental reasons.
Dead leaves are excellent mulch. Instead of adding them to the compost, put them in a separate bag or a mesh container and let them decompose for a year to make potting soil. You will speed up the process if you grind them before. This terrace will also serve as the basis for your repotting compost. Manure is also an excellent organic mulch and acts as a progressive fertilizer. Let it decompose for three to twelve months. Too cool, it would burn everything. Plasticized protective films or gravel are called non-organic mulch.
If your garden is too small to accommodate a compost heap or bin, try vermicomposting. This system uses earthworms to transform food waste (ready meals included) into liquid fertilizer. If the worms impress you, don’t worry: everything happens in one or more watertight and lockable containers. The worms are in these trays, under the food layer. Since they are leaking light, you are unlikely to see them. Compost forms under them and a lower drainage stage collect the liquid in a tank fitted with a tap.
Liquid fertilizer will form about eight weeks after the unit starts, but it is a good idea to wait until the bin is full before emptying the compost. Add all kinds of food waste, including tea bags, eggshells, peelings, and paper.
This compost can be used directly in the garden while the liquid must be diluted in water. It will fertilize outdoor and indoor plants, but also vegetables and lawns.
Vermicomposting bins are available in various shapes, colors, and sizes, including in small format for installation on a balcony. You can put them anywhere because the smell is negligible. Generally, they are placed at the back of the house or next to maintenance equipment, in an easily accessible place. The most daring install it directly in the kitchen. It is also possible to make it yourself, using, for example, plastic storage bins (and their lid), which can be easily stacked. Bokashi composters work on the same principle as vermicomposting, but with digestive enzymes rather than worms.