Garden compost is a must-have for any gardener. It is an element that can provide good nutrition to any type of planting, whether it is vegetables in the vegetable garden, fruit trees, grass, potted plants … Discover in this article everything about garden compost, its functioning, its benefits.
Garden compost: what is it?
You should know that every garden produces a lot of waste every day, which can be grass clippings, prunings or simply dead leaves. Instead of throwing them in the garbage, think about transforming this vegetable waste into garden compost.
Contrary to what most people think, garden compost is not a fertilizer. Although, like fertilizers, it has the ability to enrich the soil, it is much more beneficial. Indeed, garden compost improves the soil in a sustainable way, improving its stability, its structure and its fertility. Thus, much more than a simple fertilizer, we say that garden compost is an amendment. Moreover, it is economical, practical and easy to use.
How garden compost works
Compost can produce nutrients for your garden throughout the year. However, to do so, it must be well made and well maintained.
In addition to organic garden waste, throw your kitchen peelings into your composter. Be careful, you must shred them with an electric shredder before using them for your garden compost. For a successful compost, remember to alternate layers of waste, including: green, then brown; wet, then dry … You can also mix everything for a better result. You can also add a bit of soil to your mixture to optimize its composition. In this case, you must water your garden compost from time to time to prevent it from drying out.
How to make garden compost yourself?
Making a garden compost is more or less simple. The first step is to build a bin. The bin must be bottomless since its contents must be in direct contact with the soil. Furthermore, the compost bin can be with or without a cover, however, a cover is very useful to preserve the organic waste during bad weather. Note that if your surface to be cultivated is 500 m², a composter measuring 1 m² can largely suffice.
Generally speaking, the preparation of a garden compost takes between 4 and 6 months, sometimes even much longer. At the end of this period, your compost will look like potting soil. During this period, you should check regularly to make sure that the composting process is going well. Be sure to check the aeration and moisture content of the waste mixture regularly (every two to three weeks).
How to maintain a garden compost?
If your compost smells like rotten eggs, you should turn it to add aeration. You should also add brown elements, since a garden compost that smells like rotten eggs contains too many green elements. Otherwise, if your garden compost has absolutely no smell, it lacks moisture. You must therefore water it from time to time.
After about two and a half months, you will see a white felting appear due to the drop in temperature. This is the result of the mixture of fungi with the lignin of the wood. Afterwards, nematodes and woodlice finish the job by releasing their own waste into the garden compost.
After a year, your garden compost will inevitably lose some of its microbial activity. You can then start using it as a spreader, or as a planting substrate.
Your garden compost will retain water in your soil and improve its structure. Thus, your plants will be more nourished and therefore will resist better to bad weather.
Compost and potting soil: what is the difference?
Some people tend to confuse garden compost with potting soils. What they have in common is that they both result from the decomposition of organic matter, which can be of animal or plant origin.
Compost is the result of the decomposition of a good mixture of green and brown organic waste (which can be dead leaves, pruning, and lawn mowing residues, but also kitchen waste). Unlike fertilizers, compost is not used in planting. It is simply added to the soil surface to be cultivated in order to improve it. Compost is not a support for cultivation, it is a fertilizer and an amendment.
As for potting soil, it differs by the fact that it is extremely rich in humus. It is a particular type of loose soil in which you can grow large quantities of plants, seedlings or seedlings. It is good to know that the potting soils sold in the market are made of a high percentage of peat. Thus, it does not have the same properties as naturally occurring soils, especially those found in the forest, under trees. Commercial potting soils are also different from potting soils obtained by decomposing manure and dead leaves.
Where to put your garden compost?
To have a fertile garden, it is essential to know where to place your compost. It is preferable to choose a sunny spot to prevent the organic waste from becoming moldy. Install the compost bin, which should contain two bottomless bins. The role of the first bin is to receive the compost heap during the composting process. The other bin is the one that will give the compost of the next 10 or 12 months.
Place your garden compost in a well accessible corner so that you can easily go back and forth. In fact, using a spade, you should be able to turn over all the organic waste to aerate it. Moreover, this process is essential to avoid bacterial attacks, stimulated by the rise in temperature.