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Updated by Shane Blevins on Oct 02, 2016
Headline for 7 Components of Great Compost.
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7 Components of Great Compost.

In this article you’ll learn how to make your own compost with a combination of materials and microorganisms, how the process works, surface area, pile size, moisture, aeration, time and temperature. Compost, made from decomposed grass clippings, leaves, twigs, and branches, becomes a dark, crumbly mixture of rich organic matter that is excellent for your garden.

1

Materials

  1. Materials After a time everything that was once alive will eventually decompose. But, not all organic items should be composted at home. To prepare compost, organic material, microorganisms, air, water, and a small amount of nitrogen are needed.

These items are good choices for the home compost pile:

  • grass clippings
  • trimmings from hedges
  • vegetable scraps
  • leaves
  • potting soil that has grown old
  • twigs
  • coffee filters with coffee grounds
  • tea bags
  • weeds that have not went to seed (if there is any question on this it’s best to avoid otherwise you may spend alot of time pulling weeds as a result)* plant stalks.

Avoid these items:

  • weeds that have went to seed
  • dead animals
  • pet feces
  • bread and grains
  • meat
  • grease
  • cooking oil
  • oily foods *diseased plants *dairy products
2

Make the pile work for you

Making the pile work for you
There are tiny forms of plant and animal life which break down the organic material. These are called microorganisms. From a minute amount of garden soil or manure comes plenty of microorganisms.

Nitrogen, air, and water will provide a favorable environment for the microorganisms to make the compost. Air circulation and water will keep the microorganisms healthy and working. The nitrogen acts as food for the tiny organisms. You may have to add a small amount of nitrogen to the pile.

Putting on too much nitrogen can kill microbes and too much water causes insufficient air in the pile. Air is the one ingredient you can’t add too much of.

3

Powerhouse Microorganisms

Powerhouse Microorganisms
Bacteria are the most effective compost makers in your compost pile. They are the first to break down plant tissue. Then comes the fungi and protozoans to help with the process. The arthropodes, like centipedes, beetles, millipedes and worms, bring in the finishing touches to complete the composting.

4

Fine Saves Time

Fine saves time
The materials will break down faster if the microorganisms have more surface area to eat. Chopping your garden materials with a chipper, shredder, or lawnmower will help them decompose faster. Running your vegetables through a food processor will speed things up as well.

5

Size of the pile

Size of The Pile
The activity of millions of microorganisms generates heat in the compost pile but a minimum size 3-foot by 3-foot by 3-foot is ideal for a hot, fast composting pile. Piles that are larger can hinder the air supply needed in the pile for the microorganisms.

6

Moisture and Aeration

Moisture and Aeration
If you can imagine a wet squeezed out sponge with its many air pockets, then this would be the ideal enviroment for the microorganisms in the pile to function at their best. Pay attention while your pile is composting, to the amount of rain or a drought you may have. Water in a drought and maybe turn the pile in a lot of rainy days. The extremes of these two may upset the balance of the pile and slow the process. The use of a pitchfork can assist in this process as well as commercial bought composters or homeade turning compost bins.

7

Temperature and Time

Temperature and Time
Keep your pile between 110F and 160F and the beneficial bacteria will love it. Not too cool nor too hot.
The temperature will rise over several days if you keep a good ratio of carbon and nitrogen, maintain lots of surface area within a large volume of material, and maintain adequate moisture and aeration.

8

Bonus Info

-Importance of Compost-

+Compost has nutrients, but it is not a complete fertilizer.
+Compost provides nutrients in the soil until plants need to use them.

  • It loosens and aerates clay soils
  • Retains water in sandy soils. -Using the Compost-
  • A soil amendment, mix 2 to 5 inches of compost into gardens each year before planting.
  • A potting mixture, add one part compost to two parts potting soil.
  • Make your own potting mixture by using equal parts of compost and sand or perlite.
  • A mulch, brodcast 2 to 4 inches of compost around annual flowers and vegetables, and up to 5 inches around your trees and shrubs.
  • A top dressing, mix finely sifted compost with sand and sprinkle evenly over lawns.

The final thing I would suggest once you have mastered the art of composting is to look very seriously at making your own aerated compost tea.
This elixir will give you results that are hard to believe, we’ll talk about that in a different article.

  • Listly By

    Shane Blevins is a career US Army Soldier and founder of Omega Group Consultants LLC. He joined the Army in 1995 at the age of 19. In 1999 he assessed and was selected to join the 160th SOAR (A) and spent the next 14 years in Special Operations. In 2013 he was offered the Senior Enlisted position at the US Army SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) School and happily accepted the challenge. Having a great passion to teach and for survival training it was the perfect fit to culminate his military career. During his military career he has served combat missions and trained in most corners of the world to include better known locations such as Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa .

    Omega Group Consultants is at its core an adventurous survival oriented organization. All of our courses, services and programs can be associated with at least one of the core fundamental building blocks of a warrior. Those four fundamentals are;

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