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Compost

You can easily turn your garden waste and green kitchen waste into finished compost in 1-2 years. You use the compost as soil improvement and to fertilize the plants in the garden.

The contents of compost.

Compost is degraded organic matter. You can make compost from your garden waste, which can consist of finely divided branches, leaves and perennials. You can also use green kitchen waste. The garden waste becomes compost by a microbiological process where microorganisms such as fungi break down the dead organic matter.

Completely degraded compost is a dark brown residue that is relatively rich in potassium and phosphorus, but relatively poor in nitrogen. When the compost encounters the soil, it becomes what we call humus.

The main advantage of retaining as much garden waste as possible on your own land is that you can make a good and nutritious compost that you can put on your garden soil to improve the soil. If you make soil improvement with compost will the soil structure and micro-life improve.

There are other benefits:

  • You save money for fertilizer.
  • You do not have to bring the garden waste at the recycling site.

How to make.

In nature, dead plant parts are decomposed where they fall to the ground.

Of course, you can leave withered plant parts in the beds and let them broke down there. You can cut small branches, plant stems into smaller pieces, and put them on the soil. The soil cover retains moisture in the soil and it will eventually decompose into compost, which improves the soil.

But, it is better if you collect the garden waste in a compost pile or compost bin.

Here you can also compost your green kitchen waste. It will increase the nutrient content of the finished compost.

At the same time, it allows you to apply the compost exactly to the places in the garden where you want to improve the soil.

There are two ways to compost:

  • Cold composting
  • Hot composting

Cold compost: 

  • Lay a layer of smaller branches and twigs in the bottom of the compost bin / pile.
  • Mix garden waste and kitchen waste well and place it on top.
  • You can keep adding new green waste until the container is full. Remember to mix the different types of waste.
  • Water the pile through well.
  • Tires if applicable the pile with a tarpaulin so you keep moist and the nutrients do not wash out when it rains. Remember to water the pile if it is covered.
  • The decomposition is faster if you occasionally turn the compost around, mixes the material or moves it into a new pile.
  • After 1-2 years, the compost is finished. You can also use the partially ground compost for ground cover.
  • All green kitchen and garden waste can be used on the compost pile.

Hot compost:

Hot composting requires large amounts of garden and kitchen waste and a little more effort, but has more advantages than cold composting:

  • Disease germs, pests and weeds are killed, as the compost material becomes approx. 60 degrees hot during the breakdown.
  • Revenue goes faster. Already after 2-3 months you have semi-processed compost. It is fully traded in ½-1 year.

You must have a large pile of garden waste, at least 1 m3 and preferably more, to be able to heat compost. It is necessary for the temperature inside the pile to rise sufficiently during the decomposition.

The pile should be covered with a tarpaulin, an old rug, a thick layer of straw or the like to keep the heat inside.

If you want to be sure to kill germs and weeds, you reshuffled the pile after a few weeks when the temperature inside the pile begins to drop. That is, with a grip you move around the compost material so that the outermost material comes inside and vice versa.

If you choose heat composting, you cannot use compost worms that thrive best at a temperature of about 25 degrees. Compost storms die if the temperature drops below freezing point or above 28 degrees.

What to use and not to use.

You can use this in the compost pile

  • Withered flowers and stems
  • Cut flowers
  • hedge clippings
  • Remains from vegetables and fruits
  • Fallen leaves
  • Falling Fruit
  • Discarded potted plants
  • Fertilizers from rabbits, chickens, horses, etc.
  • Twigs and branches cut into smaller pieces¹
  • Eggshells¹
  • Coffee filters with coffee¹
  • Tea leaves and filters¹
  • Paper towel¹
  • Orange Peel¹

¹ Can be composted but takes a relatively long time to decompose.

Do not use in the compost pile.

  • Stinging plants, such as roses, thistles, tar, barberry, as they are unpleasant to handle.
  • Meat and remnants of prepared food as it smells and can attract rats and foxes.
  • Fertilizer from cats and dogs as it may contain parasites that infect humans.
  • Shells from sprayed bananas and citrus fruits as the sprays can inhibit degradation.
  • Ash from the stove as it contains many toxic heavy metals.
  • Pressurized wood, newspapers, and magazines with ink as they can contain toxic substances.
  • Weeds – especially weeds in flower and roots from perennial weeds such as squash cabbage.²
  • Sick plants, for example, plants with radiation spots, mildew or the like, and plants that are attacked by pests.²

² Applies only to cold composting. Plant diseases such as cabbage herb, potato mold or rust diseases you must be careful with. But it assumes temperatures will reach about 50 degrees inside the compost.

How to use.

Fully processed compost

Completely composted compost is similar to light and porous mud soil. Fully converted compost is used as fertilizer as the plants can immediately absorb the nutrients in it. Therefore, you should also use only fully-grown compost in the garden in the spring. In winter, the plants do not absorb the nutrients and therefore do not use because the nutrients are washed away by the rain.

It is very different how much nourishment is in compost. It depends on what you threw on the compost pile. Ordinary garden compost can usually meet the plants’ needs for phosphorus, potassium and lime, while it may be necessary to give the plants extra nitrogen fertilizers, especially the very nutrient-demanding and fast-growing plants such as vegetables and summer flowers. If you use only compost to fertilize your plants, nitrogen deficiency will develop over time and your plants will slowly gain yellowish leaves and lose some of their growing power. Nitrogen acts as fuel on the plant engine.

You can increase the nitrogen content in your compost by adding animal manure, such as the waste from chickens or some other form of barnyard manure.

As a rule of thumb, add a layer of compost of approx. 4 cm in the beds every 3-5. year or approx. 1 cm every year. If the compost is very nutritious, for example because it contains animal manure or larger amounts of green kitchen waste, you need to use half as much – i.e. only approx. 0.5 cm per year. Mix the compost into the upper soil layer with a grip or similar.

You will benefit most from your compost if you put it out in the early spring when the plants start to grow.

In the kitchen garden and in beds with summer flowers you can mix the top soil layer with 4 cm garden compost before planting or sowing. You should never sow in compost as the seeds can then have a hard time germinating.

Semi-processed compost

Semi-digested compost is coarser, smells a bit acidic and still contains residues of not fully digested plant parts.

Semi-processed compost you can put in the beds on top of the soil. Here, the compost eventually forms completely and the nutrients are released at the same time so that the plants can absorb them. Semi-digested compost also improves soil structure and retains moisture in the soil.

You can put semi-processed compost in the beds in the fall. The nutrients are not washed out during the winter. They are bound in the compost and are released only when the temperature rises in the spring and the decomposition starts again.

Problems

The compost is too dry

The compost must not become too dry, as the decomposition of organic matter then stops. In dry weather, it may therefore be necessary to water the compost. The compost is moist if you can squeeze a few drops of water out of a handful of compost material.

If the compost is covered with a tarpaulin or similar, it may be necessary to water it with 10 liters of water 1-2 times a month during the summer months. Some times, more often if the weather is very hot and dry.

The compost smells ugly

A compost pile will only smell ugly if it does not work properly. Compost should smell of forest floor debris.

If the compost pile smells very ugly, it is because there is not enough oxygen inside the compost material for degradation. Instead, the garden waste is starting to rot. If the pile is very wet, it is easier to decay.

You can avoid this by mixing the garden waste well. Mix the moist garden waste, eg grass clippings, leaves and vegetable residues, well with more dry and coarse garden waste such as branches, twigs, dry plant stems and the like. That way more air enters the compost.

If things go wrong and the pile stinks, you can solve the problem by flipping the whole pile on the ground, mixing it well and throwing it back in the compost bin. You can also mix in more dry and coarse garden waste if the pile is very wet.

Read more:

Compost: Accelerate the process and Compost bins.

Compost: Accelerate the process and Compost bins.

Acceleration

It usually takes 1-2 years for a pile of garden waste to convert into finished compost. The decomposition is most rapid if the pile is suitably airy and humid and if the garden waste is well mixed. There are several ways to speed up the process:

  • Cut the garden waste into smaller pieces so that nothing is longer than 20-30 cm.
  • Reposition the compost pile by mixing the compost with a grip. A few times a year is sufficient.
  • Mix a bucketful of finished compost in a new compost pile. This way, you add some of the worms and microorganisms that are important for the degradation.
  • You can use compost worms. However, they cannot be used in hot composting as they cannot withstand the high temperatures. You can buy compost storms in some garden centers and on the internet.
  • When you stir the compost, you can add 1 handful of limestone and 2 handfuls of organic fertilizer.
  • If your compost pile is completely dead, you can kick start it with a handful of nitrogen fertilizers that you water into the pile.
  • Animal manure also promotes degradation (though not from cats and dogs). Alternately, put 1 layer of garden waste and 1 layer of animal manure in the compost bin. The nitrogen in the manure nourishes the microorganisms that cause the breakdown into compost.

Compost bins

You can compost in an open container, a closed container or in a pile on the ground. In any case, the container must have openings at the bottom so that earthworms can enter the compost and water and compost fluid can run away.

An open container you can build yourself. For hot composting, it is better to buy a container.

Follow this link: The Best Compost Bins, According to Environmental Experts

A compost pile

You can easily compost in a pile on the ground. Then it is easy to refill garden waste on the pile and it is easy to refit it. However, laying tiles on your composting site can be an advantage so that you do not risk pigs and other pests.

It is a good idea to cover the container with a tarpaulin or similar, so that the pile does not dry out so easily and the nutrients do not wash out when it rains.

An open compost bin

An open compost bin fills less than a compost pile and are better fitted into a smaller garden. You can buy various models, but you can also build one yourself.

There must not be too large gaps between the boards in the sides of the container as it must be able to retain moisture. The space between the boards should therefore not exceed 0.5 cm. On the other hand, air should be able to enter the compost, as oxygen is required for the decomposition.

It is an advantage if you can remove one side of the container so that it is easy to re-compost. It is optimal to have a large compost bin that can be divided into two chambers. This makes it easier to re-pile, as well as allowing you to have two compost piles running offset.

You also need an extra container or pile where you can collect the garden waste for later composition.

If you need to compost hot, the container must be at least 1 x 1 x 1 meter.