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How To Create Organic Compost For Your Garden

Posted on February 11th, 2022

Organic Compost – Composting is one of the best ways to introduce nutrient-rich organic matter into your garden to feed your plants organically. It fuels plant growth and restores essential nutrients to depleted soil, creating a lush, beautiful garden. Learn more about making high-quality organic compost and compost lawn care below.

What Is Organic Compost?

You probably already have a good idea of what compost is. Essentially, it is a mixture of decomposed materials used to fertilize and improve the quality of your soil. But defining what it means to be organic can get complicated because three definitions exist: chemical, agricultural, and certified.

  • Chemically Organic – all forms of matter that contains carbon
  • Agriculturally Organic – all produce that is grown without the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides
  • Certified Organic – all foods grown following strict guidelines set by the National Organic Program (NOP) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

In this article, the term ‘organic’ will encompass the agricultural definition.

Benefits Of Organic Compost

The use of organic compost in your garden offers plenty of benefits, including:

  • The supplementation of essential nutrients for plant growth.
  • The introduction of beneficial organisms to create healthier soil.
  • The addition of rich humus acts as soil conditioner, helping it retain more moisture.
  • The enhancement of your plants’ ability to suppress disease.
  • The recycling of kitchen and yard waste, reducing the amount of waste you have to dispose to your waste bin.

What Are The Different Ways To Make Organic Compost?

There are three techniques used to produce compost, each taking advantage of different natural processes to decompose organic matter and produce fertilize to nourish your garden. Read more about them below.

Aerobic Composting

Aerobic composting produces compost in the presence of oxygen through the action of microorganisms in the soil. This is the most common method used by gardeners and farmers in making compost but requires considerable effort and commitment. Piles of organic material are used and are regularly mixed up using garden tools to introduce oxygen into the system. When done right, it can produce high-quality organic compost in a short amount of time. It is also known as hot composting because the decomposition process produces heat.

Anaerobic Composting

Anaerobic composting is compost production through decomposition in the absence of oxygen. This occurs when organic materials are piled onto each other but are left alone during decomposition, resulting in fermentation. This process is much slower and produces unpleasant odors due to the production of methane gas, a byproduct of the fermentation process. It is also referred to as cold composting because no heat is produced.

Vermicomposting

Vermicomposting produces nutrient-rich organic compost through a combination of worms, microorganisms, moisture, and oxygen. First, special worms are introduced into a system that contains soil, food scraps, and yard waste, which they consume and digest. The worms then produce castings called vermicompost, which are rich in nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium. 

In this blog, we will focus on the aerobic production of organic compost. 

What Makes High-Quality Organic Compost?

Ideally, good organic compost should contain essential nutrients that plants love, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These will depend on the organic materials you use to create your compost. Here are some examples of composting materials you can use:

  • Kitchen scraps, including vegetable and fruit trimmings, eggshells, and coffee grounds. Do not add animal products, meat trimmings, food waste, and dairy products because they are slow to decompose, produce pungent odors, and attract rodents and other pests.
  • Yard waste such as grass clippings, hedge clippings, and fallen leaves. 
  • Cow, chicken, or horse manure. Do not use dog and cat feces because they often contain disease-carrying organisms.
  • Other materials like wood chips, sawdust, and shredded newspaper.

To know whether the compost you produce is high-quality, it should have the following qualities:

  • Dark brown in color
  • Contains about 60 to 70 percent moisture (should not feel dry)
  • Free from any ammonia smell
  • Should not be sticky or greasy
  • Should be free from insects and nematodes

How To Make Organic Compost

To build a compost pile, you will need either composting bins or ample space to create one on the ground in a fenced area. You can use wire fencing, cement blocks, wooden palettes, or scrap lumber as a fencing material for your pile. Just make sure to leave an opening on one side for turning over the pile for aeration. 

To start building your pile, you will need to look for an ideal location. It must be in a secluded area near the garden with partial shade. A little bit of sun is essential to facilitate decomposition but should not be too much to prevent drying out too fast. It should also be in an area with good drainage, so it doesn’t become waterlogged.

Once you’ve found your ideal location, it’s time to start building your pile. An excellent way to build your pile is to do it in layers. Layering can be advantageous because it hastens decomposition and improves compost quality. 

  1. Start your bottom layer with coarse plant materials such as twigs and wood chips.
  2. Add the second layer on top of that with finer materials such as kitchen scraps, fruit and vegetable peels, grass clippings, and leaves.
  3. Add soil or manure as your third layer as your nitrogen and microorganism source. Adding soil as the middle layer will facilitate the mobility of your microorganisms in your pile.
  4. Repeat the second and third steps until your pile is about five feet tall.

Ensure that your pile is large enough, about 4 square feet or so, to provide a stable environment for microorganisms. Smaller compost piles may decompose more slowly. 

Finally, make sure to turn the pile weekly using a garden fork during the summer and monthly during the winter to maintain a steady temperature and increase the decomposition rate. Within 90 to 120 days, you will be able to produce high-quality, nutrient-rich compost, perfect for compost lawn care.

Expert Compost Lawn Care With Turn Unlimited

Organic composting is an excellent way to introduce essential nutrients to your garden. Through compost lawn care, you can enrich your soil and grow healthier plants that are free from disease – the natural way!

However, we understand that the entire process may require a lot of effort and time to achieve, which many are too busy to oversee. Turf Unlimited is here to help. We offer Organic Lawn Care Services to help you grow a lush garden the natural way without back-breaking effort because we’ll take care of it for you. Get in touch with our lawn and garden experts to learn more about our services.

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