If you are not using compost in your garden you are missing out on a valuable free resource that will naturally enhance the health, beauty, and productivity of your garden plants. Compost can be made from any organic material and is a great way to dispose of vegetation and trimmings from your yard and garden. It is easy to make and only requires a few inexpensive materials and occasionally a little bit of effort. Mother Nature does most of the work and you get to enjoy the results.
Compost is made naturally by the action of bacteria, fungi, worms, and other things present in the soil working upon organic material to decompose it into a nutrient rich fertilizer for your soil. It can either be tilled into the soil (a great way to loosen up clay based soils), or it can be used as mulch. It is most often used as mulch and is a great way to keep moisture in the soil during the dry part of the year as well as give your plants an added boost in nutrients.
There are various methods of making compost mostly depending upon the type of container you want to use and how quickly you want your finished compost. The main things you will want to do is keep the composting material moist (about like a well wrung washrag), turn it over at least once a week to keep it aerated, and mix some soil (or commercial composting mix) into it to give it the bacteria, fungi and other organisms necessary to break down the organic material.
A homemade composter is easy to make with just about any kind of old container. All that is necessary is some way to contain your organic material so it doesn’t spread out. I personally use a piece of web-wire fence about 3 to 4 feet in diameter set directly on the ground. This gives me a circle of wire to pile my organic material in for the composting process and when my compost is finished I can pick up the wire and access my compost easily. This method has the advantage when the compost is gone, of leaving me a patch of soil to plant on that is very rich in nutrients due to the moisture and nutrients leaching out of my compost pile directly into the soil. I usually have 3 or 4 of these compost circles in various stages of completion going at any given time.
Some like to keep their compost in a container which they can move around and or in a tumbler. You can build your own homemade composter or there are some great commercial bins and tumblers HERE.
The method I use takes about 4 to 5 months to produce good usable compost but you can speed up the process considerably by using the vermi-composting method. This involves the use of worms to speed up the process.
Whichever method you choose to use, composting is a great way to dispose of waste vegetation and convert it into nutrient rich fertilizer which will add vitality and health to any growing plant. The benefits of having your own compost to use instead of expensive commercial fertilizer far outweigh the minimal effort it takes to make it. Start your compost today, you will be glad you did!