Gardening

What is a homemade compost and how is it made

Today we will talk about homemade compost or compost , one of the best known natural fertilizers and used in organic gardens. There are many benefits of homemade compost for the soil and crops, so it is interesting to know how to compost at home and how to fertilize the organic garden with it. Let’s see it!

It is possible to compost at home using waste from the kitchen, the garden and the garden itself. As we will see in today’s post, there are several ways to make homemade compost : in an outdoor heap, in a wooden or wire mesh compost bin, in plastic compost bins, etc.

What is compost and what is it for?

The compost is a natural product obtained by a process of decomposition of waste in which the vegetable matter and other organic wastes are converted into organic fertilizer .

E l composting is an aerobic biological process (ie, with oxygen) that is made possible by the action of microorganisms, worms and / or other beneficial organisms decompose organic matter and transform it into compost: a product rich in humus and essential nutrients for plants .

This organic fertilizer is very beneficial for the soil and crops, making it the most widely used fertilizer in organic gardens .

The materials used in the compost to make natural fertilizer are very diverse: dry litter, food waste such as fruit and vegetable peelings, manure, ash, grass or grass, branches and pruning debris, crushed crop remains, etc.

Uses and benefits of compost

What is homemade compost for? Make compost at home serves, first, to give other utility to the remains of the kitchen and reduce waste or waste generated at home , which can attract mosquitoes and other insects ifdo not manageproperly.

Also, making compost at home instead of buying compost will save you when it comes to gardening (in fact, it is one of the tricks we saw to make a cheap garden ). With composting, in addition to reusing waste and caring for the environment, soil and crops, we get a fertilizer for the orchard and garden that comes almost free of charge.

In summary, broadly speaking, the benefits of using compost to fertilize the vegetable garden and garden are the following:

  • Benefits for the soil and plants in the garden: it improves the structure and aeration of the soil, maintains its humidity and increases the concentration of nutrients available to the plants. In addition, compost reduces the risk of erosion and increases the biodiversity and quality of the soil through the contribution of beneficial microorganisms and organic matter. The use of compost reduces the need to use chemical fertilizers that contaminate the soil and water and at the same time it favors that the plants grow stronger and with greater resistance to pests and diseases.
  • Environmental benefits : if we make homemade compost we collaborate in the sustainability of the planet. Thanks to home composting, we reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in a landfill or incinerator, and we contribute to saving natural resources, reducing our carbon footprint, recycling waste, etc.
  • Economic benefits: as already mentioned, we do not buy the fertilizer for the garden but we compost ourselves using waste plant material from the garden and organic waste from the kitchen.

Compost ingredients or compostable materials

The materials to make compost are, fundamentally, of two types:

  1. Waste or materials rich in nitrogen or “green waste” : they are the humid matter of the compost, so when they decompose they usually generate a strong odor, like ammonia. Aeration is important so that the waste does not rot in the absence of oxygen.
  2. Carbon-rich materials or “brown residues” : these are drier materials, rich in cellulose and lignin. These residues take longer to decompose and for this they must be moistened.

Nitrogen-Rich Composting Materials

  • Stems, leaves and other green plant remains from our crops.
  • Vegetable waste from the kitchen such as fruit and vegetable remains, coffee grounds, tea bags …
  • Mowed grass
  • Remains of old flowers
  • Algae
  • Manure and slurry: horse, cow or sheep manure, chicken manure or chicken and chicken droppings, urine and rabbit and bird droppings …
  • Buried green manure plants

Carbon-rich compost materials

  • Straw and hay
  • Sawdust and wood chips
  • Woody branches and bark such as pruning debris or pine bark
  • Dry leaves
  • Shredded cardboard (paper or egg carton or other packaging can be used as long as the ink content is low).
  • Natural hair, wool and fibers
  • Nut and pineapple shells
  • Eggshells
  • Fruit pits
  • Needles or needles of pine and other conifers
  • Ash from burning stubble, wood or pinecones (this ingredient helps to regulate the pH of the compost and of the soil to which it is incorporated since it increases the pH of too acidic soils that prevent the adequate absorption of nutrients by the plants).

Materials that CANNOT be used to make compost

  • Non-degradable material: ceramic remains, glass, plastics, aluminum foil, containers …
  • Chunks of wood that has been treated or cork
  • Remains of diseased plants or weeds that we have removed from the garden
  • Human or pet waste such as cats and dogs
  • Kitchen scraps that are not of plant origin (meat and fish scraps, bones, fatty foods such as cheese and yogurt, etc.).
  • Citrus in excess (you can add lemon, orange, etc. skins from time to time, but always well chopped and in small quantities so that, due to its acidity, the pH of the compost does not drop excessively).

How to make homemade compost

After correctly mixing all the ingredients or materials to make compost that we saw in the previous section, the composting process takes place in two phases: the decomposition of organic matter and the maturation of the compost.

In the first phase, the more easily degradable molecules disappear – such as water, carbon dioxide and ammonia – releasing energy in the form of heat (high temperatures inside the compost: 60-70 ° C).

The compost stops smelling of ammonia after this decomposition, and the water and plant debris are partially altered. This first phase usually lasts 4-6 weeks in organic gardens, although intensively (closed areas and forced aeration) it can be reduced to 2-4 weeks.

The fresh compost from this first stage can be used as mulch for the orchard and fruit trees in the garden (protection against frost and weeds) or left to mature for a few more weeks to use as compost.

In the maturation stage, the residue stabilizes and matures for 6-10 weeks until finally the compost or mature compost is obtained .

During the two stages of the compost process, it is necessary to maintain an adequate amount of oxygen and moisture in the compost, so we must water it from time to time so that it does not dry out completely and remove it so that it has good aeration.

In the post How to make homemade compost step by step there are more details on how to compost at home in two different ways: in a container or composter and in a compost pile or outdoor heap. As we will see below, in addition to these two options, we can also make other types of compost .

5 Types of homemade compost

There are several types of homemade compost depending on where we prepare the natural compost or the materials and process that we use for composting.

1. Compost in Compost

Compost can be made in containers using a plastic bucket that we buy or that we make ourselves (you can use any recycled container – we must make holes for ventilation – or buy a compost bin or compost box ).

We can also use a larger container and make a homemade compost bin with wooden pallets . You make compost wooden box is just as easy, just require a little more effort and turned management of materials.

2. Garden compost or heap compost

If we have the garden in a field with free space or if we have a small garden, another possibility is to compost in a heap.

The materials will be mixed in layers , as in the case of boxed compost, but this time we will place them directly on the ground making a small mountain, instead of putting them in a container.

3. Worm humus or vermicompost

Vermicompost, worm compost, or worm compost is a special type of compost.

For its manufacture, in addition to the two phases that we saw in the section on the composting process, it has a third stage in which the mature compost is provided as food for worms of the Eisenia foetida and Eisenia hortensis species , whose excrements give rise to a much richer compost: worm humus .

In the post about what is vermiculture and how to make worm compost there is more information about this type of natural compost.

4. Compost bocashi

Bocashi is a fermented compost, a type of special compost that uses very specific ingredients, such as molasses, rock dust or charcoal.

One of the advantages of this natural compost is that the composting process is much faster : it will be ready in two or three weeks, compared to the three or four months it takes for traditional compost to mature.

More details about this fertilizer in the post Compost Bocashi to fertilize the garden .

5. Liquid humus or compost tea

It is a derivative of compost that can be made at home using homemade compost and also with compost or worm castings that we buy in a garden store.

Compost tea is a liquid fertilizer obtained from the extract of compost in water. In the post How to make homemade compost tea step by step there is more information about this type of easy-to-make organic fertilizer.

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