Whether you are growing a garden of herbs, vegetables or Australian flowers, the success of the plants will largely depend on how much nutrients they can get from the soil. The easiest, cheapest and most environmentally friendly way to ensure there are plenty of these important nutrients is by building a healthy compost that you can add to the soil in your garden. Here are some basic tips that will help you to make healthy compost.
The container you put your compost in can either be one from your home and garden store, or you can build one from scratch. Basically, all you need is a covered box in a convenient location in your yard that is large enough to accommodate the amount of compost you wish to have. You should put the composter wherever is convenient for you to access, but it is advisable to put it in a sunny location so that its micro-organisms remain active.
Make sure your composter is open on the bottom so that microorganisms from the ground can find your compost and inhabit it once you start adding materials. The first thing you should add to the bottom of your composter is a five centimetre-deep layer of twigs and straw to help the compost stay well drained and aerated. Now you are ready to begin adding the composting materials.
The compost needs three essential ingredients to be healthy: Green material for nitrogen, brown material for carbon, and a good balance of moisture. Every time you add green material, you should add an equal amount of brown material so that the compost has a good balance of nitrogen and carbon, and wet and dry materials. The following are examples of materials that can be added to your compost:
Things that you shouldn’t include in your compost are meat, pet manure and plants that are diseased or seeding. To give your compost a nutritious boost, you can also add layers of manure from barn animals or soil from your garden that is already filled with useful microorganisms.
Once you have started adding green and brown scraps to your compost, it’s important to achieve the right balance of aeration and moisture. You will know when your compost needs more air circulation because it will be soggy and wet, and will often give off a bad smell. Having some spaces in the side panelling of the composter and turning the compost with a shovel once a week will help you avoid this problem.
Additionally, mixing adds more oxygen to the compost, which helps the microorganisms do their job. On the other hand, too much air in the compost could dry it out and slow down the decomposing process. If your compost does become dry, you simply need to water it with the garden hose to get it moist again.