Any plant develops better and bears fruit in fertilized soil. One of the most affordable and common fertilizers for the garden and the garden is compost. We will tell in which article about which ingredients can be composted, how to make compost at home or in the garden, for which crops this fertilizer is used, whether to buy ready-made compost and which of the proposed formulations.
What is compost?
Compost (lat. Compositus - compound) is a fertilizer that is formed during the decomposition of organic substances under the influence of microorganisms. Composting is a natural method of disposal and processing of organic waste, which allows you to improve the structure of the soil and saturate poor or depleted soil with substances necessary for plants. But garden compost should not be confused with those soil mixtures that are sold under that name in garden centers and pavilions. If you make the compost yourself, this is the best organic fertilizer you can get for free. There are many recipes for composting, and we will introduce you to some of them.
What can be put in compost and what cannot be?
- raw cereals, fruits, vegetables and their cleaning and trimming;
- sunflower stalks, corn cobs, garden and gourd tops, dry leaves, cut hay;
- drunk tea and coffee grounds;
- leftover cooked food;
- thin branches and shoots, unprocessed and unpainted wood, including sawdust and wood chips;
- straw, husk from seeds, nutshell;
- bird droppings and fresh manure of herbivores;
- paper - napkins, wrapping cardboard, xerox paper and newspapers in crushed form;
- shredded natural fabrics - linen, cotton, wool, silk, hemp and linen fire;
- down and feathers of birds, animal hair.
It is impossible:
- large and hard meat bones;
- ash from a stove or fireplace;
- synthetic materials and fabrics;
- peel from citrus plants;
- perennial rhizome weeds, especially in blooming or seeded;
- plant debris affected by diseases or treated with herbicides;
- pests and their larvae.
Regarding whether feces of humans and carnivores can be added to compost, experts still do not have a common opinion, as well as whether they can add leftovers of milk, fat, meat and fish to compost.
The process of converting grass, food and household waste into organic fertilizer is conditionally divided into three parts:
- decomposition: at this stage, the waste is heated inside the heap, change its structure and enriched with useful substances. As a result of transformation, useful microorganisms, fungi, earthworms appear in the compost, which contribute to the acceleration of the processing of the mass into fertilizer.
- humus formation: at this stage, it is important to ensure aeration of the pile, since microorganisms that organize and carry out the compost maturation process can die without oxygen. To ensure air access, the mass is mixed with a pitchfork or a shovel;
- mineralization: at the mineralization stage, nitrogen compounds decompose and humus transforms into mineral forms. The process reaches its maximum value after a year of compost exposure.
How is compost useful?
Firstly, it is one of the best mineral fertilizers that fill the soil with a huge amount of important trace elements.
Secondly, it is the cheapest way to structure the soil, which is carried out by increasing moisture conservation.
Thirdly, compost is conveniently used as a mulch, which slows down the evaporation of moisture from the soil and inhibits the growth of weeds.
Fourthly, now you do not have to take out the landfill or incinerate organic waste, since it can be laid in a compost pit and turned into an excellent fertilizer.
How to make DIY compost
How to make compost in the country
There are two ways to make compost - fast and slow, which are also called cold and hot. But first, let's determine the capacity for compost and the location of this capacity in the garden. It is best to build a box of wooden planks or any boards that did not come into contact with toxic materials - stain, varnish, paint and the like. If you want the box to serve you for many years, make it from pine boards - it will cost you inexpensively. Knock down the four walls, observing the gaps between the planks - these slots will serve to aerate the compost.
It is better to place the box (collar) on an elevation so that it is not washed away by water, and away from the garden, otherwise the roots of all plants will change direction and stretch towards the collar with compost. Choose a place, level the surface, dig in four supports and nail three walls to them. It is better to make the fourth wall removable or opening, so that it would be convenient for you to turn the compost or to take it out for mulching the beds. The bottom of the box is better concreted, but you can cover it with a thick plastic wrap or old linoleum.
If you don’t feel like bothering to plank the boards, you can buy a ready-made plastic or metal composter in the store - a compost container with a lid, the main purpose of which is to prevent the compost from crumbling. The advantage of such containers is that they can add protein waste - meat, fish, milk, since they are tightly closed by a lid, and rodents do not penetrate into them. In addition, they retain heat well and can be moved. And the disadvantage of industrial composters is that they do not receive air. If you are not pressured, buy a local organic processing station that independently maintains the process temperature and is equipped with a control system. In the end, you can make a cylinder of the desired height and width from a netting net and store the waste for composting into it, but it will be inconvenient to remove the compost from such a container and dig it into it.
When can compost be done? There is no strict framework on this issue: you can start laying layers in spring, after trimming trees and shrubs, and replenish layers as organic material arrives. In autumn, in a compost heap you can lay the fallen leaves, tops of vegetables and melons. Achievements of modern science even allow composting in winter. But first things first.
How to make compost? At the bottom of the composter or pile, lay chips or trimming branches that will serve as drainage material, and then start filling the composter layer by layer, and the more types of organics you put in the compost, the higher its quality. Compost preparation involves the alternation of dry waste with wet and green with brown (nitrogenous with carbon). In the so-called green layer, waste is placed that is a source of nitrogen - trimming and peeling vegetables, small twigs, green tops, and in brown - torn newspapers and other paper containing carbon, fallen leaves and dry rods. The composition of compost can be enriched with plants that contribute to the rapid formation of humus - yarrow, dandelion, chamomile, and valerian . To accelerate fermentation, a compost heap is watered with a solution of mullein or bird droppings. The consistency of the mass should resemble a wet sponge, but moderation should be observed in moistening the compost, since "flooded" microorganisms will not be able to generate heat that promotes decay.
To preserve the temperature and environment necessary for the process, you need to cover the homemade composter with oilcloth, an old carpet, linoleum or a lid made from tightly fitting boards. Once or twice a month, layers of compost should be turned over with a pitchfork to loosen the mass, achieve uniform moisture and stimulate decaying processes due to lack of ventilation. In the heat, compost is watered from time to time to maintain the required humidity.
Well, you put compost in the box, now you need to wait until it decays. Ready-made compost looks like a dark, moist, friable mass, smelling of forest soil.
Composting requires some rules:
- compost should not smell bad. If the smell of ammonia appeared, it means that the processes are not proceeding correctly, and the mass can turn into poison. In this case, add torn paper to the compost to level the prevalence of nitrogen components in it. So that the ammonia formed during fermentation does not leave the collar in the form of fetid gas, but is processed into nitrogen, the following order of filling the tank should be observed: each waste layer should be no more than 50 cm thick, and organic layers alternate with soil or manure layers 5-10 cm thick;
- everything that you put in the compost heap should be pre-chopped, and the greens must be slightly dried so that it does not acidify in the compost, but frills it;
- before the onset of winter, you need to shovel the whole pile so that the lower layer is at the top and the upper one is at the bottom;
- the height of the heap should not be more than 1.5 m, and the width should be less than 1 m, otherwise it will be difficult for you to shovel the mass. The height of the heap is measured a couple of months after laying the compost, since during this time it settles significantly.
Many gardeners prefer to make quick compost: they dig a shallow (not more than 40 cm) but wide pit on an elevated site, which is filled with broken branches and shredded wood, and then covered with ground. In a year or two, a wonderful fertilizer will ripen for your garden.
The fastest compost is obtained from the leaves: in autumn, fallen leaves are laid in a shallow pit, layered with garden soil, watered with biostimulants (EM preparations - Baikal-M1, Gumisol, Tamir, Urgasa or the like) and covered with a black film, and in mid-May this compost can already be partially used for its intended purpose. To speed up the process, you can put “sourdough” from the already overripe into the young compost. You can speed up the compost preparation process by such means as a solution of sugar and yeast, which should be abundantly watered with plant debris embedded in the composter, or nettle infusion: ¾ Buckets of nettle are poured with warm water, a packet of dry yeast is added and put in a warm place for 5 days, after which filter the infusion and pour compost on it.
Compost at home
You can make compost in the winter at home.
DIY compost at home is easy to do. For this you will need:
- plastic bucket;
- garbage bag;
- several plastic half-liter bottles;
- a bottle of EM fluid that speeds up the compost process;
- sugar plastic bag;
- a package of garden soil or purchased soil.
Make cylinders of the same height in plastic bottles by cutting the bottom and neck, and place them on the bottom of the bucket. Put a garbage bag with several small holes in the bottom to drain excess liquid into the bucket and start filling it with shredded plant debris, spraying each three-centimeter layer from the spray gun with the accelerator solution prepared in accordance with the instructions. After moisturizing the residues, squeeze out air from the bag, tighten it tightly and squeeze it with a load - for example, a five-liter plastic bottle with water. About once every three days, drain the water from the compost from the bucket - this liquid can be poured into the drain overnight to clean the sewer pipes and drains in the sinks. And if you dilute this liquid with water in a ratio of 1:10, you can water indoor plants with it.
As the bag is filled with organic residues, spray each layer of them with a fermentation stimulator, let the air out of the bag and put pressure on it - do this until the bag is placed in the bucket. Once the bucket is full, place it with compost in the heat for fermentation for a week, then mix the compost with a small amount of garden or garden soil, transfer it to a sugar bag and take it to the balcony or loggia, where it will now be stored.
In a free bucket, place a new garbage bag with openings for water drainage and start the process of accumulating and turning waste into compost again. If you do everything right, you will not hear a bad smell. A sour smell can occur simultaneously with the appearance of white mold on the surface of the compost - this is a sign that the process is not going well. To correct the situation, add finely chopped newspapers or other paper to the bucket. Put the second portion of ripened compost in a bag in which the first batch of fertilizer is stored. Ready home compost can be poured into pots of indoor plants, added to a substrate for seedlings or taken to the cottage and used as fertilizer or mulch.
Growing champignons is now a very profitable business, and many are adapting to grow these mushrooms in their basements - this method is called intensive as opposed to extensive when mushrooms are cultivated in natural conditions. Champignons are grown in different ways, but the method of growing in bags is the most effective: it does not require high financial costs, and diseased mushrooms in one bag do not infect champignons in neighboring bags. The only drawback of this method can only be considered that laying the substrate in bags requires considerable physical effort. Compost in bags is placed on the floor in parallel or in a checkerboard pattern, and the checkerboard arrangement saves production space.
A high yield of mushrooms can only be obtained on a nutrient medium, and for this a compost-based substrate is required. Compost for growing champignons, as well as garden fertilizer, can be prepared independently. For 100 kg of wheat or rye straw you will need 100 kg of horse manure, 8 kg of gypsum, 5 kg of chalk, 2 kg of superphosphate and urea . They cut the straw 15-20 cm long, fill it with water for 2-3 days so that it does not get wet and moist, then put three or four layers of straw in a pile or box in a queue with manure layers, adding compost fertilizer - all urea and part of superphosphate (500 g). Then the mass is thoroughly mixed, gypsum is added, then the remainder of superphosphate, then chalk, and after adding each ingredient, the compost is thoroughly mixed each time - only 4 times. At the output, 300 kg of substrate is obtained - this amount should be enough for laying 3 m² of mycelium.
If you use not horse, but bird droppings, then the proportions will be different: for 100 kg of litter and 100 kg of straw 300 l of water, 8 kg of gypsum will be required, and alabaster is used instead of superphosphate and chalk.
Compost for mushrooms should mature in the open air in a place protected from the sun and rain within three weeks - during this time the components “burn out”, ammonia evaporates completely, and compost can be used: put about 15 kg of compost mass into special bags with perforation and planted mycelium in it.
Compost in drawers
The box mushroom cultivation system was developed in the United States in 1934 and is still more popular in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Growing champignons in boxes, as well as in bags, allows you to localize the defeat of fungi by diseases and pests and provides the ability to contain mushrooms at different phases of development in different rooms.
Boxes are made of spruce, birch or alder boards. The volume of the boxes can be from 0.4 to 2 m², and the optimal depth of the containers is 12-15 cm. Before use, they are disinfected with a four percent formalin solution or a two percent lysol solution. As for the substrate, the method of preparation is the same as when growing champignons in bags.
Ready-made compost - worth buying
If you do not have time to compost or you are afraid to not cope with this task, you, of course, can buy ready-made compost. Well-established product of the company Biud - a universal concentrated and environmentally friendly biocompost, which can be used both for ornamental crops and fruit and berry. To create this biofertilizer, both traditional composting techniques and the latest Finnish technologies are used. The compost of this brand is based on highland and lowland peat, cattle or horse manure, litter of poultry and fur-bearing carnivores. As additives, crushed straw, sawdust of deciduous trees, dolomite flour, vermiculite and other natural preparations are used. By the name of the compost, you can determine what type of manure is used in it - “Cow”, “Horse”, “Chicken”. There is also a biocompost in the series, created to fertilize the soil in the fall, it is called “Autumn”.
The use of compost when planting has a fruitful effect on vegetables - fertilizer is applied to the wells one tablespoon each. 2-3 glasses of fertilizer are put in the pits of berry shrubs, and in a pit of fruit trees - a liter jar of compost.
Compost for champignons is also not a shortage - you can purchase it both in loose form and in briquettes. However, it is still worth trying to make compost yourself, because this will require very little effort, and all the necessary ingredients are waste of your life. Start collecting and laminating organic waste at home, as described in our article, and the first compost bucket you made yourself will inspire you to build a large garden drawer for fertilizing and laying the compost heap. As a result, you will always have high-quality and free organic fertilizer in your garden.