Compost Making Primer 1

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This is a basic description of what compost is, what its benefits are, how to make it and use it.
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  COMPOST MAKING PRIMER  Aerobic Decomposition by Bacteria and Fungi of a mix of Organic Material along with nutrient recycle organisms required for nutrient cycling. by: Duane Marcus The Urban Gardener, Inc.& Southern Soil Solutions www.theurbangardener.com  T he U rban G ardener, Inc. Your AllNatural Garden Center    1  COMPOST REQUIREMENTS 1.MICROORGANISMS2.FOODS FOR MICROORGANISMS3.AERATION4.MOISTURE5.TEMPERATURE BENEFITS OF COMPOST 1.ADD BENEFICIAL ORGANISMS TO SOIL2.RECYCLE NUTRIENTS CAPTURED BY PLANTS3.IMPROVE SOIL STRUCTURE4.REDUCE WATER NEEDS5.SUPPRESS DISEASE CAUSING ORGANISMS6.DEGRADE TOXINS IN SOIL7.KEEP ORGANIC WASTES OUT OF LANDFILLS8.REDUCE WATER POLLUTION9.ELIMINATE NEED FOR CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS10.ELIMINATE NEED FOR CHEMICAL PESTICIDES   2  1. MICROORGANISMS BACTERIAFUNGI PROTOZOANEMATODES MICRO -  ARTHROPODS NUTRIENT RETENTIONNUTRIENTRETENTIONMAKE NUTRIENTS AVAILABLEMAKE NUTRIENTS AVAIL -  ABLEMAKE NUTRIENTS AVAIL -  ABLE DISEASE SUPPRESSION DISEASE SUP - PRESSIONBUILD SOIL STRUC -  TUREBUILD SOIL STRUCTUREBUILD SOIL STRUCTUREBUILD SOIL STRUCTUREBUILD SOILSTRUCTURESTIMULATE PREY GROUPSSTIMULATE PREY GROUPSDECOMPOSE TOXINSDECOMPOSE TOXINSINHIBIT ROOT - FEEDINGNEMATODES TAXI CABS FOR ALL OTHERORGANISMS  Add to pile for microorganism diversity  - compost tea, good compost, forest soil, worm castings, collected fungi, nematodes 2. FOODS FOR MICROORGANISMS  TYPE   OF   FOODEXAMPLES %   FOR   BACTERIAL   COMPOST %   FOR   FUNGAL   COMPOST HI - NITROGEN Manure, blood meal, spring or fallfescue clippings, alfalfa hay, organicfertilizer, beans, peas, fish fertilizer 10 % 10 % GREEN MATTER Garden trimmings, co ff  ee grounds,kitchen waste, oats, brewery waste 50 % 40 % WOODY MATTER Shredded leaves, sawdust, wood chips 40 % 50 % Other foods for additional plant nutrients - granite sand, kelp powder, humic acid, ground crab shells, limestone, greensand 3. AERATION - Ingredients must include coarse as well as fine particles to insure the pile does not become anaerobic. - The pile must not stay saturated with water to prevent anaerobic conditions - The pile must be turned regularly to release CO 2 and incorporate oxygen   3  4. MOISTURE - The microorganisms require water to function. The pile must be kept moist but not so saturated thatthere is no space for air. - Water must be added as you build or turn the pile to be sure it is thoroughly incorporated. The watermust not be chlorinated because chlorine kills microorganisms. You can spray your pile with a fine spray held away from the pile to let the chlorine dissipate. - Moisture levels should be maintained at 50 % . Take a handful of ingredients and squeeze it if water runsout the moisture level is 70 %   (  ok in the beginning   ) . If a few drops run out it is 50 % . If it sticks togetherbut no water runs out it is 40 % . If it falls apart it is 30 % or less. Add water immediately. 5. TEMPERATURE - If organisms are present in su ffi cient quantities and the foods are present in the correct proportions, thepile will heat up as the organisms consume the foods. - You should monitor the temperature with a compost thermometer. The temperature in the middle of the pile must be above 135º   for 3 days to kill weed seeds and disease - causing or -  ganisms. You need to turn the pile to get all of the ingredients into the middle and heated to 135º for 3 daysto be sure all the compost at the end of the process has been heated su ffi ciently to eliminate weeds anddisease. Your pile should be turned 4 - 5 times. - The temperature should never exceed 155º. Above 155º all the oxygen will have been consumed by thehard -  working bacteria and fungi and the pile will go anaerobic. Anaerobic organisms do some bad thingsto compost. They produce alcohols and other chemicals that are toxic to good organisms. They combine water and nitrogen into ammonia which is a gas. The ammonia gas escapes into the air taking all the nitro -  gen your plants will need. If your pile smells like ammonia  (  or vomit, or poop  ) you probably have anaero - bic conditions. Turn the pile immediately! FINISHED COMPOST  Your compost is finished when it no longer heats up after turning. After the 4th turning it is a good idea tocover the pile with wet cardboard to retain moisture in the pile and to keep it from getting too saturatedduring extended rainy periods. Using the recipe above the process will be complete in 3 - 4 months. Theorganic matter will no longer look like plant parts and will be crumbly and dark brown. You can leave thecompost for 6 months or more to increase the diversity of organisms in the compost as temperatures andmoisture levels change causing di ff  erent species to come to life.   4
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