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Compost - The Essentials

What is compost & why is it important to make?
Compost is decomposed organic material and it is important that everyone recycles their garden & kitchen waste, as it reduces landfill and saves transporting waste to landfill sites.

What can you compost?

Any plant material living or dead (E.g; Leaves, newspaper, lawn cliippings, garden prunings, food scraps - but avoid meat and bread, as it is more likely to attract rodents.)


How to use compost
Compost needs to be kept out of direct sunlight as it will dry out & kill off many of the beneficial microbes. The best way to do this is to mix into soil or bury it under mulch. The best way to use it on an existing garden is to pile it generously around plants, and mulch over the top.

The benefits
The main benefits from compost is the microbial life that lives in it! The microbes recycle nutrients and make it available to plants.

Methods
The main methods are aerobic composting (Hot)
and worm farms (Cold).

Ingredients & Ratios

Just a note to remember - the larger the pile of ingredients the easier it is to make compost.  Around a cubic metre (1m high x 1m deep x 1m wide) for hot composting is ideal.


The types of material you will need are split into two groups:

Carbon material
(e.g, dried leaves, straw, sawdust, mulch, dried lawn clippings, shredded paper and cardboard).

Nitrogen material
(e.g. green lawn clippings, green leaves, manure, vegie scraps, blood & bone).

As a rule of thumb, use about one third of nitrogen material to two thirds carbon. All this material needs to be wet to the consistency of a damp sponge.

Ensure ingredients are damp, and alternate layers of carbon & nitrogen materials.

How does it work?
Compost heats up because of an explosion of microbial activity. The activity is millions of algae, fungi, bacteria, nematodes & protozoa - all living, eating and breeding. In effect, it is a food chain, and the composting process is the catalyst.

Once you have made a pile, cover it with either old carpet or black plastic.
This keeps the moisture and heat within the pile, and also reduces the amount of nitrogen escaping into the atmosphere.

Maintaining a compost pile
The idea is to maintain the food chain until the organic material is broken down.
The microbes need a food source, air to breath, water.

You have supplied the food and water with your ingredients. The air will be in the pile to start with, but will quickly be used up. When you first make a pile leave it for a week, then turn the pile every few days for the quickest results. Monitor the moisture content, adding more water if the pile is too dry.

How to make weeds useful.
All weeds make a good additive to compost, but before they go to seed.
Weeds to look out for are lupins, patterson's curse, milk thistle, Tagasaste and any of the wattles that are introduced. Green, fresh weeds count as 'nitrogen' material. If dry and brown, they count as 'carbon' material.



If you can't make enough compost for your garden needs, The Green Life Soil Co. sells Certified Organic compost, bagged or bulk.


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