Kamis, 03 Desember 2009

Tips To Really Get Your Compost Heap Cooking

It seems that most organic gardeners love the idea of making their own compost, but some gardeners have trouble making it really happen. Don't give up! There are ways to give your compost heap a boost and get it heating up again - creating beautiful, nutritious humus for your veggie garden.
OK, so after six months your 'compost' has remained unchanged from it's original state? Remember there are certain conditions your heap needs to be able to actively turn it's ingredients into compost. They are air and moisture. Here are some things you can try.

1. Turn your heap over, exposing it to air, watering if dry.
2. If your heap dries out it will stop breaking down. Water the heap every few days in summer if conditions are hot and dry.
3. Add ingredients that are as small as possible. Use a shredder, mulcher or lawn mower to chop up larger ingredients such as prunings and larger leaves.
4. To speed up the composting process add lots of nitrogen-rich ingredients such as clover, manure laden straws, herbal activators (see below), washed sea-weed or fishmeal.

Herbal Compost Activators - some herbs are well known as particularly impressive compost activators. Add them to your heap to speed up your results.

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is rich in calcium, nitrogen, phosphates and potassium. It has large hairy leaves that break down very quickly.

Dandelion (Taraxacum sp) also accelerates the breaking down of materials in the heap. It is rich in copper, potash and iron, all valuable goodies in your compost.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) has a reputation for attracting earthworms to the compost heap. It's leaves are also rich in minerals.

Yarrow (Achillea sp) can have the most dramatic effect in your heap, even in small amounts. It will enrich your compost with nitrates, potash, phosphares and copper, so is a very valuable addition.

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) has the ability to concentrate potassium from the soil where it grows. Adding Tansy to your compost means adding potassium.

If you have the room, it's best to have two or more compost piles on the go. One that you are preparing by gathering materials, one that is semi-matured and one that has already turned into that gorgeous, black, earthy plant tonic - ready to use.
One more tip is to make sure air can get to the middle of your heap, especially if you don't plan to turn it often. Place garden stakes or pvc pipes through the middle of your heap so that you can 'jiggle' them every few weeks allowing air to the centre.
Try some of these tips and I'm sure you will speed things up for your compost heap and you will be topdressing your veggies with your own compost in no time.

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