15 Tips on composting

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With compost, the "black gold" of the gardener, you can increase the yields of your kitchen garden significantly. The compost not only acts as a nutrient supplier, but also improves the soil structure. We have put together 15 tips on the topic of compost for you.

1. Create the compost place

Choose the place for your composter wisely. They are best placed under a larger tree, because in the cool, moist woody shade, the waste does not dry as easily as in the blazing sun. Above all, the ventilation is a question of the right container: Most models have wide air vents in the side walls, through which the carbon dioxide generated during rotting can escape and fresh oxygen can penetrate. Do not place the composter on a paved surface - even if that seems to be the "cleanest" solution. Soil contact is important to allow excess moisture to seep out and allow rain worms and other "composting aids" to enter.

2. Three containers for optimal composition

Professionals swear by the three-chamber principle: in the first the waste is collected, in the second the first rotting phase takes place and in the third tank they decompose completely. Once the finished compost is consumed, the contents of the second container is converted to the third. The waste from the first chamber is then used to build a new pile in the second. Commercially available composters made of wood or galvanized metal usually have a capacity of one cubic meter. Even self-made containers should not be larger, so that the ventilation inside the pile is guaranteed.

3. Main thing mixed!

Cuttings, harvest residues, autumn leaves, uncooked vegetable kitchen waste: The list of ingredients is long - and the more versatile the mixture, the more harmonious the rotting process. Garden waste is different in its structure and ingredients: shrub cut, for example, is loose, dry and low in nitrogen, while grass clippings are very dense, moist and rich in nitrogen. In order for everything to decompose evenly, waste with opposing properties must be alternately layered in thin layers or mixed together: moist with dry, tight with loose and low in nitrogen with nitrogen.
This is not easy to implement in practice, as suitable waste rarely occurs at the same time in the garden. One option is to store shredded shrubbery next to the compost and then gradually mix it under the resulting grass clippings. Seed-forming weeds can also be composted - provided they are weeded before flowering! Spill-forming species such as Wheatgrass or Creeping Buttercup can be left to dry on the bed after they have been torn off or, even better, processed together with stinging nettles or comfrey into vegetable manure.

Composting garden waste

Variety in the compost ensures fast rotting

4. Chop up the shrub first

Branches and twigs rot fastest if crushed with a shredder before composting. However, very few hobby gardeners know that the type of chipper also determines how quickly the wood decomposes. So-called quiet shredders such as the Viking GE 135 L have a slowly rotating cutting roller. She presses the branches against a pressure plate, squeezes small pieces and breaks up the fibers in contrast to the classic knife chopper. The microorganisms in the compost can therefore penetrate particularly deeply into the wood and decompose it in a short time.

5. The microorganisms also need nutrients

Foliage, wood and perennial shrubs consist to a large extent of carbon (C) and hardly contain nitrogen (N) - the expert speaks here of a "wide C-N ratio". Nitrogen, however, needs almost all bacteria and protozoa in order to multiply. The result: Such waste is only slowly decomposed in the compost. Who wants to accelerate the rotting, must promote the activity of microorganisms with a composting accelerator. It is simply sprinkled on the waste and, in addition to guano, horn meal and other organic fertilizers, often contains algal lime and rock flour, depending on the manufacturer.

6. Compost the citrus peels

Untreated peels of lemons, oranges, mandarins or bananas can be composted without hesitation, but rot due to the contained natural essential oils but slower than apple or pear peels. Fruit treated with chemical fungicides (diphenyl, orthophenylphenol and thiabendazole) can interfere with the activity of compost organisms, especially the red compost worm.In smaller quantities, they are hardly questionable and leave no detectable residues.

Organic Compost

Fruit peels are quite suitable for the compost

7. Wild herbs harmonize the rotting process

In the biodynamic cultivation specially prepared extracts of yarrow, chamomile, nettle, oak bark, dandelion and valerian are added to the freshly prepared material. Even in small amounts, the herbs harmonize the rotting process and indirectly promote the humus build-up in the soil and growth and resistance of the plants. In the past, lime nitrogen was often recommended as an additive to decimate germinating weed seeds or pathogens and increase nitrogen content. Organic gardeners do without the noxious additive and intensify the fertilising effect by added cattle manure or damp compost with nettle.

8. Bentonite for a better soil structure

Bentonite is a mixture of different clay minerals. It is carried out on light sandy soils to increase their storage capacity for water and nutrient salts such as calcium and magnesium. Even more effective is bentonite if you sprinkle it regularly on the compost. The clay minerals combine with the humus particles to form so-called clay-humus complexes. These give the soil a favorable crumb structure, improve its water holding power and counteract the leaching of certain nutrient salts. In short: sandy soils are significantly more fertile with this "special compost" than with conventional humus.

9. Hard-working employees: mushrooms, small animals & Co.

Did you know that a handful of compost contains more living beings than humans live on the earth? During the start-up and conversion phase, the pile heats up to temperatures of 35 to 70° C. Mushrooms and bacteria are in action. Woodlice, mites, ground beetles, red compost worms and other small animals migrate only in the building phase, when the heap has cooled (8th to 12th week). In the maturing compost one discovers cockchafer grubs and useful rose beetle grubs (recognizable by the thick abdomen), also germinate on the pile or on the edges wild herbs, for example chickweed. Earthworms do not migrate until the last stage of maturity, when the compost gradually becomes grounded.

Cover compost

To protect the compost from drying out, it is recommended to cover it

10. A cover against wind and weather

It is important to cover open compost containers to prevent the pile from drying out on the surface, to cool down too much in winter or to be wet through rain and snow. Suitable are straw or reed mats as well as thick, breathable compost protection fleece, in which you can pack the compost completely in case of persistent frost. With foil, you should cover the compost only for a short time, for example, in particularly heavy rainfall, so that not too many nutrients are washed out. The big disadvantage: films are airtight. The wastes below are not supplied with oxygen and begin to rot. In addition, you should not keep the compost completely dry, because the microorganisms feel in a moist, warm environment most comfortable.

11. This is how to recognize mature compost

Depending on the season, it takes six to twelve months until coarse plant remains have turned into dark humus soil. Ripe compote smells pleasantly of forest soil. Apart from egg shells and a few pieces of wood, no coarse components should be recognizable. By repeating and mixing several times you can accelerate the process. Here, the rotting process can be easily corrected. If the material is too dry, mix in fresh green waste or moisten each newly applied layer with the watering can. If the heap rots and smells musty, stalky perennials, leaves or twigs are used to soften and ventilate wetted material.

compost comparison

On the basis of the composition and the smell it can be determined, whether one is on the right way with his compost

12. Sift compost before sowing

If you prepare your vegetable beds or your cold frame for sowing in spring, you should first sieve the required compost before - so it is easier later to pull uniform Aussaatrillen. For sifting, it is best to use a large-size through-sieve with a not too narrow mesh size (at least 15 millimeters) and toss the compost through with a grave fork. The coarse ingredients slip off the sloping surface and are later mixed in again when placing a new compost heap.

13. Spread compost - when and how much?

The best time to apply the finished compost is during bed preparation in spring. In addition, you can distribute it during the growing time around all garden plants and rake on the surface. Nutrition-hungry vegetables such as cabbage, tomatoes, zucchini, celery and potatoes receive four to six liters per square meter of bed per year. Medium eaters like kohlrabi, onion and spinach need two to three liters. This amount is also sufficient for fruit trees and the flower or perennial border.Poor people like peas, beans and herbs, as well as the lawn, only need one to two liters. Loamy soils usually need less compost than sandy ones. In the vegetable garden, it is brought out in the spring after soil loosening and rakes it flat. Permanent crops such as fruit trees and berry bushes can also be mulched with compost in autumn.

14. Where to go with the sick plants?

Scientific studies show that plants whose leaves are affected by fungal diseases such as mildew, blackspot or brown rot can be composted. Exposing experiments with compost even suggests that when composting the affected material antibiotics are formed that have a positive effect on plants. Prerequisite: a good rotting course with starting temperatures over 50 degrees Celsius. In the soil surviving pathogens of root diseases such as coal hernia survive in compost, better dispose of diseased plants otherwise!

liquid fertilizer

Compost water is an excellent liquid fertilizer

15. Make liquid fertilizer from compost

Compost water is a fast-acting, natural and inexpensive liquid fertilizer. Place a scoop of compost in a bucket of water, stir well and then apply undiluted with the watering can after settling. For plant-strengthening compost tea, let the broth stand for two weeks, stirring thoroughly each day. Then filter the extract through a cloth, dilute (1 part tea to 10 parts water) and spray over the plants.

Video Board: How To Compost Composting Tips - What To Add Tumbler Composter Bin Bins -DIY Make Mulch Soil Topsoil.

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