While composting seems like the easiest part of garden where you just pick items randomly, dump, them in a container of your choosing and allow the mix to sit for months, it’s certainly not that simple. There’s so much more to getting a good compost heap and a lot of times, gardeners ignore these important steps.
Spring is that special time of the year that many people with small gardens at their backyards often look forward to. Leaves begin to wither and fall off from tree branches. “Spring-leaving” has long been the conventional method of making quick compost for your plants, but you really don’t have to wait all year long till spring to start composting.
Composting is a fun activity but still quite tricky. It doesn’t require any skill but you need a lot of tactic to get it right. This is why a lot of farmers, gardeners and plant lovers would and decide they’d rather buy bags of compost from the stores than do it at home.
However, if you take the time to learn a few do’s and don’ts, you’d master that special art of DIY composting and it wouldn’t be a Herculean task for you anymore.
What is Composting?
Composting is simply the process of breaking down natural waste for use in other areas, such as the garden. While for the most part, we compost to improve nutrients in pour soil, the process helps to reduce natural wastes that litter around us, ranging from animal feces to withered leaves.
Compost itself is an organic matter turned dark due to the natural process of decomposition. Although you can allow Mother Nature to complete this task, you may want to facilitate the process by composting specific items. The rule of the thumb is to maintain an optimal temperature while doing so, because this makes it easy to apply the decomposed matter into other cases, such as fertilizers for the garden.
Why should I Compost?
For a lot of reasons, where the most important one is to increase organic matter in the soil and improve overall yield during harvest. Compost is often referred to as “the farmer’s delight” since it’s one of the most efficient, fun and straightforward methods of fertilization.
In addition, you should make natural compost because they don’t burn or harm your plants/crop like synthetic fertilizers would do. Compost generally improves the physical properties of the soil while fertilizing your garden at the same time.
The do’s of Composting
Truly, you don’t need special gardening skills or a college education to make perfect compost. It’s only a matter of knowing what’s right and wrong, what’s necessary and what could be done without. There are specific materials that should be added to your compost, and many more you should keep far away from it. Let’s look at a few key factors you should consider when composting.
Add Twigs and Bush Clippings
The first thing to know about the composting process is that some materials break down faster than others. You’ll have to carefully select items do not only break down faster but have the potential to actually add something useful to the soil.
Some of these materials are twigs and bush clippings. They are capable of keeping the compost from getting too dense.
Stir the Pile
Once the pile is ready, continuously stir it to enable even air circulation in the compost. Turning the pile with a shovel or pitchfork at intervals helps in preventing it from becoming too dense.
Keep Food Scraps out of Sight
Food scraps tend to attract rodents, and what’ worse, they decompose to give out foul odors you’ll certainly dislike. Hence, they should not be composted at all, but if you must, bury them deep into the compost while using other materials to cover the top.
Combine Green and Brown Materials
We already understand the importance of fresh materials that are mostly green in color. Now, the rule of the thumb is to mix green and brown materials for effective composting. This involves using brown materials like dried grass clippings and sawdust at the top and green materials like vegetables and fresh grass clippings below the compost.
Besides, the use of varied organic materials (green and brown) helps to create an important balance between nitrogen and carbon.
Set the Pile near a Water Source
Always keep your compost moist. Water molecules aid the decomposition process and a dry compost is a good breeding ground for rodents. If there is no artificial/manual source of water nearby, you may want to set up the pile near a water source.
Begin on Bare Earth
Although it’s an artificial approach to creating fertilizer, composts require maximum attention and relevant matters to achieve a total breakdown. You should begin the composting process on brae earth to allow the penetration of worms and other agents of decomposition.
Aside from the above expectations, you can also apply the ingredients and steps below to achieve a rich pile at the end of the process:
- Keep the materials loose to enhance air penetration.
- Integrate materials that trigger surface area bacteria. Some of these are plant stalks and shredded branches. They help in facilitating decomposition.
- Compost fruit wastes, grass cuttings, stale bread, herbs, paper bags, and tea bags made from natural products.
- Fallen leaves, scrunched papers, eggshells, nutshells, and feathers are also ingredients for composts.
- Other ingredients that can go into the compost are pet hair, napkins, non-wax cardboard, paper, coffee bags, and spices.
The Don’ts of Composting
Avoid any items treated with Pesticides/Chemicals
The primary idea of composting is to add healthy and natural matter to the soil. Throwing in materials treated with corrosive chemicals such as pesticides would be going against your original intent. Some of these include cat and dog waste, meat, fish, and eggs. Other materials you need to keep away are dairy products, seeds of weedy plants, and diseased plants.
Note that items treated with pesticides such as the ones listed above tend to attract rodents. On the other hand, dairy products tend to make the compost smell awfully. Generally, these ingredients do not decompose quickly. It’s a far better play to avoid them completely to extend the efficacy and outlook of the compost.
Do not integrate Diseased Plants
You may think that diseased plants would decompose faster but actually, they are toxic to other plants and could disrupt the balance of your compost. When compost made with diseased plants is added to the soil, it could cause a disease outbreak your garden.
Animal drops tend to decompose quickly but they are also harmful because they harbor harmful matters like germs and bacteria.
Other items to avoid and more precautions to take include:
- Do not add inorganic materials
- Avoid meat products such as animal fat and bones
- Cooking oil
- Ashes from briquettes (BBQ) and coals
- Do not integrate many grass clippings because they begin to smell when decaying
- Sticky labels
- Citrus Peels
- Glossy paper
What to do with Dog Poop
Dog poop is a sort of “in-the-middle” item to add to your compost. While a lot of gardeners generally avoid fecal matter, for obvious reasons, it’s worth mentioning that dog poop can turn out to be a great ingredient for your compost if you take the right precautions.
Here are ideas on the best way to dispose of your dog’s waste/poop and probably turn it over into your compost:
Use a Plastic Bag
The first step to getting rid of dog poop is by using a plastic bag to take it away from the immediate environment where it has greater chances of posing harmful effects to the body. Use a dog poop scooper (or a shovel preferably) to scoop the waste from the floor into the plastic bag. After that, tie the bag neatly, place it in a trashcan or dustbin, and wash your hands thoroughly.
For this method, you need to bring a sufficient number of worms to feed on the poop. They would feed on it, digest it, and leave the environment clean.
Composting appears as a green method of disposing of dog poop. However, you need to be careful when converting the waste into fertilizer.
Use the Toilet
If you don’t like the two ideas above, you might want to flush the poop down the water closet. Just make sure you use a flushable bag, and you’re good to go.
Invest in a Mini Septic Tank
A septic tank helps in breaking down animal wastes and related matters. Invest in one and scoop dog poop into it. After doing so, you need to add enzyme powders to facilitate the breaking down of the poop. In the end, the tank breaks down the poop and returns it to the ground.
You can choose to scoop and flush dog poop from the yard without bringing it into the house.
Dig a Hole
Digging a hole is important because it prevents the poop from spreading diseases around the home. To do this, dig a hole of about 1ft deep at your backyard and scoop the waste into it.
Can you Compost Dog Poop?
Contrary to widespread opinions, you can actually use/integrate dog poop into your compost. In light of this, the waste can turn from a pollutant to becoming a nutrient of sorts for your garden. The tips below are helpful in decomposing dog poop:
- Use relevant materials like a garden spade or shovel to scoop the poop. You also need a compost bin to contain the pile after collecting/scooping the poop.
- Integrate soil organisms such as earthworms and bacteria to break down the compost/pile faster.
- Choose a yard/compost site that measures at least 3 feet by 3 feet. This is the area where you would be building/creating your compost. Therefore, make sure it is many distances away from the source of water and is away from the reach of children and animals.
- Do not use poop from dogs with diseases for your compost.
- Layer the compost pile by placing a 3-inch layer of sawdust below the pile. After that, put the dog poop on top of it and cover the waste with a 1-inch layer of sawdust.
- It’s advisable to mix the poop with vegetative composts for better results.
- Ensure that you turn the compost pile on a weekly basis to facilitate the decomposition and to keep them properly aerated.
Compost with Caution
Creating an artificial source of fertilizer is an incredible idea, especially when you don’t already have a mature mix at hand. However, you need to exercise caution by doing the right things and avoiding actions that could waste all your effort. For example, excavating dog poop isn’t a hard task after all. The waste is also a viable ingredient for composts.
Making a compost pile is easy if you stick to the guidelines provided above. Now, take advantage of these simple tips and create perfect compost at your backyard.