Natural Gardening




A Review of the Steps to Successful Composting

The hot composting method (also known as fast or active composting) is the most common as it yields desired results relatively quickly. It is also the best method to take care of unwanted weeds as it will destroy the seeds during the heat phase.

After you have picked a level site for your composting bin, you will need a good base for the bottom of leaves and high-quality soil.  The leaves should be chopped or chipped so that no one piece is larger than two-three inches (this is a good rule of thumb for all materials added to the bin).

Once your bin and base are in place you can start to add your green food (nitrogen-rich) and your brown food (carbon-rich).  The ratio that should be roughly followed is one part green for every two parts brown.

Monitor the pile every other day for moisture control and temperature.  During this time you need to rotate or turn the pile to get good air flow inside the pile and to help with odors. 

Once your pile is full or has finished the heat phase, let it cure.  The length of curing will depend on your intended use of the finished product.  To eliminate any larger pieces of organic matter that did not break down use a screen to sift them out.  But if you follow the rule of not putting in anything that is larger than three inches this should not happen.

A compost humus can be ready to use in as little as 3-4 weeks with a hot composting method and maintenance to the pile on a regular schedule.  If you are going to use the cold (or inactive) method of composting, it can take up to one year for usable compost to be ready. 


Common Uses for Finished Compost

Now that you have put in the work, waited the required amount of time and have your finished compost material – what are you going to do with it?  There are more uses than just laying it down on your flower beds.  Some are practical everyday uses and others are more specialized.

You can make a tea with your finished compost; it is not for drinking though.  To make your compost tea, add your humus to a water-tight container and fill with water.  Let the tea “steep” anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days.  After it is done, put the liquid compost through a fine screen to collect any debris.  What you have made is a
liquid fertilizer that can be sprayed on plants or other garden areas.

Compost can be used to help stop the spread of erosion.  It can be laid down thickly on the area that is eroding away or it can be mixed with water to make a thick slurry and then sprayed on the area that is in danger.

Humus (finished compost) is used as a final layer over a finished landfill to help new plants grow with little to no erosion.  Finished compost can also assist in revitalizing an endangered wetland.  The nutrient rich composition can be used to create a new wetland as well.

Of course there are the traditional uses too – in gardens, planting beds, or other areas that plants or vegetation grows.  If you are starting a new compost bin, in place of a layer of topsoil for the base you can substitute an equal amount of compost material.  Farmers and cities use mature compost on a large scale; it helps the environment and reduces the amount of garbage that ends up in a landfill.


Herbs by the Ounce
at Years to Your Health

Nathaniel Hawthorne
"I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation.  It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green."  ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse