Hey there! 14th - 21st March is Compost Week for all you green-fingered readers!
Seasoned gardeners have long known the importance of composting their garden waste and food scraps. Not only does compost enrich the soil, but it also loosens compact clay soils and enhances drainage while reducing many disease issues. These benefits mean better plant health, higher yields, and a more balanced moisture content. As a top dressing, compost slowly releases nutrients to soil and can help suppress some weeds.
The Composting Council lists the following physical, chemical, and biological benefits to composting: Modifies and stabilises soil pH Increases the soil’s ability to hold essential nutrients Increases beneficial soil microorganisms Binds contaminants and degrades compounds Helps with wetland restoration and erosion control Suppresses weeds and many pathogens
Here’s some Dos and Don’ts for your compost heap maintenance:
Do: Add garden and other organic materials to the compost pile, including leaves, grass clippings, straw and hay, sawdust, and finely chopped or shred tree and shrub pruning.
Do: Build the compost piles in layers with 6 to 8” layers of plant material with a one inch layer of soil or previously made compost in between.
Do: Add a combination of green and brown plant material. The green provides the nitrogen and the brown adds the carbon. Both are necessary for the microbes that break down the organic material.
Do: Shred or cut large items before adding them to the compost pile, such as branches and twigs, newspaper, etc. Smaller particles decompose faster.
Do: Add food scraps from produce items, such as apple cores, banana and orange peels, melon rinds, etc. You can also put coffee grounds and eggshells on your compost pile.
Do: Turn the pile over occasionally or turn into another bin to mix; this aerates the material for more rapid decomposition.
Do: Add water occasionally if it doesn’t rain so the pile is damp, but not soggy.
Do: Have patience. It will take two to four months for plant material in a compost pile to decompose if it is turned regularly. Otherwise it may take six months or more.
Don’t: Add meat scraps, bones, fat, whole eggs, or dairy products to the compost pile because they decompose slowly, cause odours, and can attract rodents and pests.
Don’t: aAdd pet faeces or used cat litter to the compost pile.
Don’t: Add diseased plant material or weeds that have gone to seed.
Don’t: Consider compost a substitute for fertiliser in your garden, but rather a supplement. The nutrient release from compost is often too slow to supply all the nutrients necessary for good plant growth.