Gardening is one of my favorite activities. It is a good way to exercise and tending to plants in my garden is one of the most therapeutic experiences I have every week. Even with my busy schedule, I find some time to visit my garden very regularly to do some work. Another reason I have a garden is organic food grown in the garden. While many people spend a lot of money buying these nutritious foods, I get them almost for free from my garden. The quality of produce from every garden depends on how well it has been managed.
There are many ways to ensure that your vegetables and other food plants get the best nourishment to grow well. Overlooking certain vital procedures might hinder the proper growth and development of the foods you are growing in the garden. This post will be focused on making and maintaining a compost heap. Let’s start by defining what this means.
What is a compost heap?
Simply put, a compost heap is a collection of organic waste from your kitchen and garden in a compost bin. This waste is collected and managed to aid proper decomposition to form a rich source of organic manure that will help your plants grow well.
A compost bin is a container in which a compost heap is gathered for decomposition. While some practices create compost heaps in holes dug in their gardens, to get the best results, you should use a compost bin. It also keeps the area clean while you are making your compost heap.
So you already guessed that you would need a compost bin, this bin can be bought or made. The preferred materials for your compost bin are recycled wood which has not been treated with chemicals. There are also plastic compost bins which you may decide to use.
Choosing a good spot
The best place to put your compost bin is in an area that will aid the decomposition of the compost heap. It should be placed where some sunlight will reach the compost heap. Sunlight makes the heap warm, and this warmth aids decomposition. So find a spot close to your kitchen backdoor or garden where any drain from your heap won’t stain the floor.
Making the Compost heap
Your goal while making a compost heap should be to include organic waste matter that will keep the heap moist and warm. These two factors aid decomposition. You should also look out for the following materials to make the best compost heap- fruit and vegetable peelings, unused parts of vegetables, egg shells, nettle tops, fallen plant leaves, rotting tomatoes, squeezed out oranges and materials from your juice extractors, etc. in essence, you want to keep your compost heap made up of strictly organic waste. So avoid putting cooked food, pet litter, baby nappies, etc.
It is a lot of fun get your whole family involved, educate the children about what should be put into the compost bin and what shouldn’t be in there. As your heap gets bigger, you will need to turn it occasionally with a garden fork to aid aeration and decomposition.
Maintaining your compost heap
The best compost heap is well decomposed. You will be impressed at how the plants that grow in soils enriched with compost turn out. So it is essential that you keep your heap warm and moist. Depending on the rate of decomposition, your compost heap may take a few weeks or even months to be ready for use. When the content of the bin is fully decomposed (dark look, disintegrated and mild ammonia smell), it is ready. At this time it should be warm to touch.
Applying your compost
There are many ways to apply the compost heap; your choice will depend on your planting method and what you are growing. I usually make a mixture of the soil and some of the compost before planting this works for me but feel free to explore other ways based on what you want to grow.
Gardening activities are fun; they are different from the regular life where you run errands and use computers for long hours. And you get to learn a lot of new things about nature. So start making your compost heap and feel free to post pictures for everyone to see.