The best ingredients for nutrient-rich compost come right from your homestead. You only need a few things to start creating a way for your crops to grow without the use of chemical filled fertilizers. The best thing about creating your own compost is that you can choose what goes in it.
What To Use
In order to create the perfect compost, you will need two specific things – carbon and nitrogen rich ingredients. Carbon rich ingredients include things like dried leaves or dried grass clippings. They are also known as your “browns”. Nitrogen rich ingredients include fresh leaves or grass clippings. The nitrogen rich pile is commonly referred to as your “greens”.
There are many options you can use for your carbon rich ingredients or your browns. For your browns, you will need dried grass clippings or leaves, dried brush trimmings, cardboard, straw, woody prunings, corn cobs, sawdust, hay, tea bags, or eggshells. Your browns are always going to be hard, dry, or dead. This is the best way to remember what goes in the brown pile.
As for your greens, or your nitrogen-rich ingredients, there are a few things you can put together. You can use fresh grass clippings, vegetable scraps, fresh manure, coffee grounds, fresh hedge trimmings, seaweed, hair, feathers, or fresh plant cuttings.
What Not To Use
Several items are not a good idea to use for compost. Never use animal byproducts in your compost, like fish, egg, dairy, meat, or poultry products. The reason it is not good to use these for compost is that they can produce bacteria and cause issues with odor, resulting in pests.
If you are planning to use your compost to produce a fertilizer for your plants that is reusable, be careful not to include coal or charcoal because they contain substances that can harm plants. You should also avoid using raspberry and blackberry brambles, long twigs, or anything with big branches, and pet droppings – especially from cats or dogs.
Tips and Tricks
If you want to make a perfect and nutrient rich compost, follow these tips and tricks that can help.
Properly Balance Carbon and Nitrogen Rich Ingredients
Anything that was once an organic matter will eventually decompose and provide nutrients to your soil. However, the carbon to nitrogen ratio needs to be correct so your process of decomposition will quickly accelerate. Your carbon to nitrogen ratio should be 30-1 so the bacteria makes its way in, heating the compost pile to over 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Stick to the Basics
To have a successful compost, you need to have a little time to experiment. You will need to practice getting the green to brown ratio correct and avoid all the fancy things that some books might tell you. It is not necessary to have a thermometer, a specific compost bin, a pitchfork, or kelp. You also do not need to ace a class in composting to get it right. The best survival shovels will do the trick in helping you to mix up your pile. The more you experiment, the better you will get at creating the perfect compost.
To create well-balanced compost, you should leave any dry leaves or straw on top of the pile so any vegetable or fruit scraps from your kitchen stay on the bottom. This will help leave space for air, helping to create compost full of nutrients.
Keep It Moist
The perfect compost isn’t too wet and isn’t too dry, but it is moist. To create moist compost, you should water your compost pile in dry weather and keep it covered in rainy weather. If you can keep the outer portion of your compost rich in carbon, what is inside the pile should stay just right. The nitrogen-rich components in the pile are already moist, which helps balance the carbon-rich materials. This will help keep the rain from soaking into your pile and running it.
Cover Your Compost Pile in Carbon
It is best to keep more carbon on top of your compost pile, as carbon-rich components will help keep it looking nice and keep the odor away. You basically will want to cover it all up with dried leaves to bury the process of composting that is occurring underneath the leaves.
Every time you add a new layer of composting materials, pull it back a layer. You should be aiming for it to be about three to four inches thick. Once the inside of the pile turns a dark color and looks crumbly, use the outer layer of carbon as a compost ingredient in your next pile.
Making a nutrient rich compost pile will take some time. Once your pile begins to become dark and crumbly, it can still take up to a year for it to become mature enough to use for soil. If you are making compost, you probably aren’t in a hurry anyway. Watch nature run its course and eventually because of your efforts, you will have compost you can use and reuse in the future.
In addition to helping your crops grow, you are helping the planet by reducing the use of chemical fertilizers and encouraging the use of natural bacteria. Now that you have a better understanding of how to create nutrient-rich compost, give it a try and see how much better your crops will grow because of your compost.