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Organic Gardeners Composting

Organic Gardeners Composting

Have you always wanted to grow your own vegetables but didn't know what to do? Here are the best tips on how to become a true and envied organic gardner.

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The Keys to a Great Compost

This informative eBook demonstrates the best ways to compost in order to improve your garden, make your vegetables and fruits taste better, and help save the soil and the environment. Over 20% of landfills are simply kitchen waste that could easily be recycled Why waste what you already produce? You have an easy source of organic health for your own garden at home, without having to spend large amounts of money in order to make really healthy soil. With today's composting technology, you can compost as much as suits your needs! If that is a little compost for a small home garden or a large plot that you grow food for your family or business, composting will be an easy and cheap way to improve the quality of your soil and thus your vegetables as well! This guide shows you every method of composting; from free methods you can do with no extra money all the way to elaborate by easy to set up composting rigs. Improve the environment, and get better tasting food!

The Keys to a Great Compost Overview


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Composting Toilets And Systems

Technically, a composting toilet is a toilet in which composting takes place. Usually, the composting chamber is located under the toilet. Other toilets are simply collection devices in which humanure is deposited, then removed to a separate composting location away from the toilet area. These toilets are components of composting toilet systems, rather than composting toilets, per se. They can also be called compost toilets. Humanure composting toilets and systems can generally be divided into two categories based on the composting temperatures they generate. Some toilet systems produce thermophilic (hot) compost others produce low-temperature compost. Most commercial and homemade composting toilets are low-temperature composting toilets, sometimes called mouldering toilets. The most basic way to compost humanure is simply to collect it in a toilet receptacle and add it to a compost pile. The toilet acts only as a collection device, while the composting takes place at a separate...

Choosing materials to compost

What you put in the compost pile is up to you just remember that it needs to be from an organic material. Here's a short list of possibilities Kitchen scraps (eggshells, old bread, and vegetable and fruit scraps) Avoid adding the following to your compost bin Kitchen scraps containing meat, oil, fish, dairy products, and bones (They attract unwanted animals, such as rats and raccoons.)

To aim for when building a compost pile

Given the importance of nitrogen for making proteins, you might think you should aim to use only stuff with the lowest possible C N ratio as ingredients in your compost pile. This opinion might be reinforced by learning that the microorganisms that do most of the work in the compost pile have a C N ratio between four and nine (people have a similar ratio). However, as we'll see (pages 28-29), nitrogen-rich material on its own has some unfortunate implications for the air supply to your compost pile. Moreover, bacteria don't just need a C N ratio suitable for turning into more bacteria much of the carbon in their food is simply burned, or respired, away as carbon dioxide (CO2). In fact, about two-thirds of the carbon consumed by bacteria is given off as CO2, so

Often exaggerated a long spell in a compost pile will finish off many seeds

If you adopt the preferred method of composting described later (seepages 72-75), which depends very much on worm activity, most of your compost pile will have passed through one or more worms before you use it. Some seeds pass through worms unscathed, but many do not. Roots or rhizomes of perennial weeds, such as dandelions, docks, and couch grass, are another problem. As far as they are concerned, a compost pile closely resembles their usual, underground habitat, so they are not damaged at all by a cool compost pile. The secret here is to kill them before they go on the pile. Bake to death perennial weeds before throwing them on your compost pile. Some types of garden waste require caution. One of the undoubted virtues of hot composting is that weed seeds and pathogens are killed. But traditional, hot composting is hard to achieve in the average garden, so what do we do with such problematic ingredients Fungal and bacterial pathogens are the worst, but we do need to keep a sense of...

Getting your compost pile started

A well-constructed and well-maintained pile provides the proper amount of water and oxygen for aerobic bacteria, which are the best decomposing microbes they work quickly, generating heat as a byproduct of their activity. This heat helps material break down quickly and kills many diseases, insects, and weed seeds. Containing your compost pile makes it look neater, helps you maintain the correct moisture, and prevents animals from getting into it. Here's what you need to know to build a good compost pile You can build your own (see Figure 5-2) or buy a commercial home composting unit, like those shown in Figure 5-3. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of fresh (green) organic matter such as grass clippings, manure, table scraps, or even high-nitrogen fertilizer such as cottonseed meal on top of the dry layer. For advice on choosing your ingredients, go to Choosing materials to compost, later in this chapter.

Compost four leds Away

If you don't want to dig out a weed patch to make way for a garden patch, take a lesson from California organic gardener Carrie Teasdale. She makes an on-site compost pile that not only provides humus for her garden but smothers weeds as well. Choosing a site where weeds are growing makes sense, Carrie says. If there are weeds growing, that's a good place for a garden.' She lets her on-site compost cook for several months, noting that the hotter the weather, the quicker it will break down.

Fancypants composting technology and the supplies you really need

You don't really need much technology to be a gardener, and composting is no exception. An old-fashioned compost pile works fine, as it has for eons. You simply find a suitable spot and heap up some stuff, using the simple formula in the next section. Then cover the pile to keep the heat in. Turn it now and then if you want it to break down faster (see Figure 16-2). Squirt some water on it every week or so. Harvest ripe compost. That's it. If you must buy composting bin, look for a simple bin made of recycled plastic y JV (Figure 16-2 also shows an upright compost bin). The bigger the better piles 1 11 around 3 x 3 feet heat up better than smaller ones. Throw plant parts in the top and periodically pull finished compost out the little door in the bottom. No muss, no fuss, no turning. Or get a tumbler-type bin and give it a spin once in a while. You can also build a series of bins out of concrete block, scrap wood, or other sturdy material for the dividers. You want to turn the compost...

Compost Kitchen Scraps and Yard Debris

Layer kitchen scraps with lawn clippings, chopped dry leaves, shredded twigs and plant stalks, and other landscape and garden debris to make rich compost. Composting recycles the nutrients contained in organic materials. My family keeps a small plastic bucket with a lid right in the kitchen sink, and that bucket is where all our eggshells, teabags, fruit and vegetable scraps, and inedible leftovers go. When it's full, my uncomplaining spouse carries it out to spread in the compost bin. (I love that man.) Our composting habit keeps our trash can smelling better, makes the earthworms happy, and keeps our dog from getting fat. Flip to Chapter 5 for details on how to make your own compost pile.

And compost helps provide all three

The soil community also contributes directly to the well-being of many of the larger and more conspicuous animals in the garden. Small soil animals like springtails are food for ground-dwelling beetles and spiders, while earthworms are a favorite food of frogs and toads, and even of larger animals such as raccoons and foxes. And don't forget the wildlife that inhabits the compost pile itself. Decaying organic matter is a favorite haunt of many animals that would be rare or absent in a garden with no compost pile. Compost is a favored habitat for slow worms, one of the few animals in the garden that really like eating slugs. A compost pile is a complete ecosystem, a world in miniature. Worms eat decaying vegetation and excrete organic compounds that enrich the mix, while their burrowing helps aerate the compost. As organic matter is passed through an earthworm's digestive system, it is finely ground and neutralized by calcium carbonate that is secreted by the worm's gizzard.

Soil and Other Materials in the Compost Pile

It is important to add soil to your compost pile. The soil contains a good starter supply of microorganisms. The organisms help in several ways. Some break down complex compounds into simpler ones the plants can utilize. There are many species Always be sure to add at least 3 different kinds of crops to your compost piles. Different microbes flourish in specific kinds of crops. The result of this crop diversity is microbe diversity in the soil, which ensures better soil and plant health. Note that at least 3 different materials of 3 different textures are used in the grow biointensive method compost recipe and in many other recipes. The varied textures will allow good drainage and aeration in the pile. The compost will also have a more diverse nutrient content and greater microbial diversity. A pile made primarily of leaves or grass cuttings makes the passage of water and air through the pile difficult without frequent turning because both tend to mat. Good air and water penetration...

Make a Simple Compost Bin for Your Own Organic Matter

Sure, you can buy a compost bin, but if you have an open spot that gets sun yet is out of the way, setting up a homemade one is easy. Plan for your bin to be about 4 feet in diameter smaller piles don't heat up well, slowing decomposition. See Chapter 4 for more information on using compost.

Compost Happens Making Your

Making your own compost is probably the simplest way to ensure high-quality compost and save some money. The process really isn't as complicated as you may think the many commercial composting bins and containers on the market make composting a mess-free, hassle-free process. When you make compost, you create a pile of material to be composted, mix the materials thoroughly at the correct ratios of carbon (brown stuff) and nitrogen (green stuff) explained in detail in Maintaining proper ratios, later in this chapter and keep the pile watered just enough to keep it moist but with enough air to breathe. Using this method, you can enjoy finished compost a month or two after you start.

Compost the Cornerstone of Organic Gardening

In the soft warm bosom of a decaying compost heap, a transformation from life to death and back again is taking place. Life is leaving the living plants of yesterday, but in their death these leaves and stalks pass on their vitality to the coming generations of future seasons. Composting is a natural process that recycles plant materials. Essentially, bacteria and other organisms feast 011 carbon-rich matter and digest it, producing humus, a rich, stable medium in which plants thrive. The more technical definition is composting is the controlled aerobic (oxygen-using) biological decomposition of moist organic (biologically derived carbon-containing) solid matter to produce a soil conditioner. Over time, tiny microorganisms break down dead and decaying grass, leaves, twigs, paper, sawdust, hay and straw, weeds, wood ashes, human and animal hair, feathers, garden waste, seaweed and kitchen vegetable and fruit waste. Kitchen waste can include coffee grounds, tea leaves, and egg shells....

Compost The prince of organic matter

The best and most refined of organic matters is compost, which is organic matter and or manures that have decomposed until they resemble loamy soil. Whether you make your own compost (see the Compost Happens Making Your Own section, later in this chapter) or buy it ready-made, you can add finished compost to the garden or around plants at any time. I pile a 2- to 3-inch layer annually around my plants and on my garden beds. Why not just add raw organic matter to your garden instead of composting it When you compost the materials first, the final product is uniform in color, nutrients, and texture is odor free and contains fewer viable weed seeds and potential disease organisms (depending on how it was composted). Your plants will be happy with you for treating them so well. As gardeners have become more aware of the value of compost, more sources of it have become available. You can buy compost in bulk (back the truck right up) or bagged, depending on where you live. The following...

To this kind of composting

(not earthworms that live in soil, but smaller, related species called brandlings). In fact, this sort of compost heap is essentially a large wormery (see pages 140-145), but a lot less trouble. Worms should colonize naturally, but you can make sure by adding some from an existing heap. If you're starting from scratch, get some worms from a compost-friendly neighbour. As a last resort, buy them from compost specialists, but this should not be necessary. In a high-fibre heap, most of the actual composting activity is confined to a relatively narrow layer, with fresh material above and maturing compost below. If your heap is working well, this narrow layer should be very rich in worms. Since this layer-cake arrangement is vital to the success of your heap, it follows that you need do nothing other than add new material to the top. Certainly

Composting Toilets Must Be Managed

We have used flush toilets for so long that after we defecate we expect to simply pull a handle and walk away. Some think that composting toilets should behave in the same manner. However, flush toilets are disposal devices that create pollution and squander soil fertility. Composting toilets are recycling devices that should create no pollution and should recover the soil nutrients in human manure and urine. When you push a handle on a flush toilet, you're paying someone to dispose of your waste for you. Not only are you paying for the water, for the electricity and for the wastewater treatment costs, but you are also contributing to the environmental problems inherent in waste disposal. When you use a composting toilet, you are getting paid for the small amount of effort you expend in recycling your organic material. Your payment is in the form of compost. Composting toilets, therefore, require some management. You have to do something besides just pushing a handle and walking away....

Analyses of various composts

Garden compost A Garden compost B Poultry manure compost Poultry manure compost Poultry manure compost do a grear job ac growing food. The he was cold so many times thosc it came to beheve it themselves. But if compose is going co noticeably improve che growth of most kinds of vegetable crops, it has to have a nitrogen content in excess of 1.5 percent and a C N no higher chan 15 1, and ic muse contain significant amounts of phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and trace minerals, all in the right proportions. Not all composts do most, in fact, done as shown in Figure 7.2. Please noeice in che cable that municipal refose compost isn't potent enough for vegetable growing. That's because much of the material going into che heap is paper and cardboard, chipped cree crimmings, and ocher woody waste. All these materials have a high C N, and the average C N of the heap when composting starts exceeds 50 1. After much heacing and watering and turning and shrinking and rewatering and...

Solving compost nuisances and problems

If you follow the recommendations in the previous sections, you shouldn't have any trouble with composting. But if things go sideways on you, here are some tips It's overrun with critters No meat in the pile, okay It attracts raccoons, skunks, rats, and other meat-eaters. And cover those kitchen scraps, which attract fruit flies. If you see a large furry paw rising up out of the pile, run like crazy.

Manuring and Composting

One of the best means of handling manures is composting. Composting stabilizes the nutrients in manure, builds populations of beneficial organisms, and has a highly beneficial effect on soils and crops. Compost can be produced on-farm by a number of means. Additional products from composts, such as compost teas, have special applications in organic agriculture. Human manures are expressly forbidden in certified organic production. This includes composted sewage sludge (also called biosolids). The organic community made its opinion on this quite clear when the USDA's first draft of the national rule (December 1997) proposed allowing the use of sludge in certified production. It was counted as one of the big three targets of protest, along with food irradiation and genetic engineering. The prohibition of biosolids would have been disconcerting to Albert Howard, who decried the failure of cities to return their organic wastes to the countryside. Such recycling was, in his mind, a key...

Composting step by step

Even though you find many subtleties and various approaches, getting things to rot isn't really that mysterious. Follow these simple steps and you're on your way Gather up some green stuff and some brown stuff. They can be lawn clippings (green) and dry leaves (brown), freshly cut hedge clippings and wood chips, or any similar mixture of materials. The greens supply the nitrogen and the browns kick down the carbon. The right combination, which turns out to be about half of each, makes for a good, hot pile that breaks down quickly. Using too much green material makes the pile stinky, and using too much brown material slows the activity in the pile to a crawl. The more you chop up the material, the faster it composts. Using food scraps is okay if you cover them with leaves or shredded paper to keep the flies out meat and other animal parts attract vermin and are best left out. For sure don't add dog or cat poo they can harbor wicked diseases. Don't waste your money...

Compost Is His Plants Cup of ea

Malcolm Beck of San Antonio, Texas, knows compost. He is the author of The Secret Life of Compost, and he manufactures and sells up to 100,000 cubic yards of it every year. Malcolm believes that compost solubles (the materials that are released when you make the compost tea) are the best part of the pile. He says that these dissolved minerals, microbes, hormones, and other ingredients in compost tea feed the plants, act as a general tonic, and also discourage some pests and diseases. So he makes a simple but effective tea from compost and uses it to feed his plants regularly.

Break It Down Composting Plant Tissue

Compost is the other end of the cycle of birth and death it's plant tissue broken down by natural forces into nutrients that other plants need to grow. Compost returns nutrients to the system in their most natural form, improves soil structure, stabilizes soil chemistry, makes plants more drought tolerant, nourishes beneficial soil microorganisms, suppresses diseases, neutralizes contaminants, increases soil permeability, and reduces runoff. Compost is essential, sustainable, and beautiful.

Advantages and problems with compostmaking in tropical climates

In hotter areas, where the sun's rays are actually much stronger than in more temperate climates, it is important to establish the compost heap in the coolest, shadiest place possible. The heap must not be allowed to dry out, especially in hot weather. Plan to water the heap when you're watering the garden. If your district is expecting extended heavy rain, cover the heap with a piece of heavy plastic because wet soggy compost will encourage anaerobic bacteria (tiny creatures which live without air) to breed. These organisms will tend to make the compost smelly and heavy, and normal decomposition will be incomplete. Compost can be made in warmer climates in six to eight weeks. During the winter months it should be ready to use in ten to 12 weeks. Always cover the compost heap with a thick layer of mulch to keep it cool and moist.

Compost Curing Maturation and Application Rates

Usually, a compost pile needs one turning to adjust the moisture level and make the mixture more homogeneous for complete breakdown. This should be done at about the 3-week point, after the temperature of the compost pile has peaked and fallen. A decrease in moisture usually occurs at the same time, the color begins to change to brownish from the original green and yellow, and the compost's odor begins to change from musty to an earthy, freshly plowed soil aroma. The compost will normally be ready about 2 months later. Compost is ready to use when it is dark and rich looking and it crumbles in your hands. The texture should be even, and you should not be able to discern the original source of materials. Mature compost even smells good like water in a forest spring A grow biointensive pile should be ready in 3 to 6 months.4 When you turn a compost pile, make the base of the new pile smaller than the original base to give the turned pile more mass. If you are not ready to use your...

Management of the composting process

Composting Process

The initial content of mineralised N in compost used as growing media is important, as availability of nutrients is essential for seedling growth. Management of composting processes in order to control the mineralisation patterns can thus be of great importance. Control of a composting process and the properties of the end product can be achieved by at least two different strategies. One strategy is to adjust process parameters, such as moisture level, temperature or oxygen content (Beck-Friis et al., 2001 Smars et al., 2002). Another is to alter the starting conditions by changing the composition or type of material used so that C N ratio or fibre composition is changed (Eklind and Kirchmann, 2000a Eklind and Kirchmann, 2000b Eiland et al., 2001a). A third strategy is to influence the composting process by delaying the addition of part of the material as opposed to including all the material from the start (Dresboll and Thorup-Kristensen, submitted A Dresboll et al., in prep). Thus,...

Ingredients For Various Compost

Sieving Sand

Cuttings compost Compost for germinating seedlings and ty oz ground limestone and ozsuperphosphate per bushel of compost Potting composts for young plants JOHN INNES No. 1 POTTING COMPOST 7 parts loam (sterilized) 2 parts sand in grade) and f oz ground limestone and 4oz J. I. fertilizer base per bushel of compost LOAMLESS POTTING COMPOST 1 part sand j - in grade) and 4oz any fertilizer base and 4 oz ground limestone per bushel of compost LOAMLESS POTTING COMPOST WITH LOAN 7 parts peat (sieved) and 4oz any fertilizer base and 4gz ground limestone per bushel of compost For ericaceous composts, omit lime. Riddle peat through a in sieve before mixing thoroughly with other ingredients to make the required compost.

Compost and mulch The difference is in the use

If you're an inexperienced gardener, you may be confused by the difference between composting and mulching both processes use waste organic matter. The difference is in the use. Composted materials are dug back into the soil to enrich it and to enable the plants to use the nutrients that have been released by the decaying process. A mulch is a layer of material spread over the ground or around plants to provide protection from heat or cold, to retain soil moisture, or to maintain a certain soil temperature. Compost stays in the soil and eventually becomes part of it a mulch is removed when the protection it provides is no longer needed.

Parameters affecting the composting process

The end product of a composting process is dependent on different parameters. In order to produce a suitable growing medium for containerised plants, it is essential to understand how the composting processes can be influenced, and how the different parameters interact. C N ratio is an important variable correlated to mass loss during composting (Eiland et al., 2001a). C N ratios of approximately 25 have been suggested as optimal for composting (Bernal et al., 1996). If the C N ratio is above this, a low initial decomposition rate is seen with low respiration rates and low microbial biomass. Most of the nitrogen seems to be immobilised initially when C N ratio is high, resulting in no net mineralisation (Eiland et al., Many waste materials such as household wastes have an initial low pH, often around 5, due to a high content of short chain fatty acids, and pH can decrease further due to release of organic acids during decomposition (Tuomela et al., 2000). During successful and fully...

Building a Compost Pile

You should develop an individual approach to compost-making based on how much space you have, how much compost you need for the garden bed, and how elaborate a layout you're inclined to construct As a guide, following are five different approaches to setting up a compost pile, using a range of devices from a simple plastic bag to a permanent group of bins. Plastic bag compost 3. Add randomly any kind of waste kitchen materials (as noted before) and maybe occasionally garden wastes. 4. When full, set the bag out in full sunlight for about three weeks. The compost will then be ready to use. 5. Put the lid on the can. The ripe compost will be ready in about 3 or 4 months. If you start the can in the fall, the compost will be ready to add to your garden by spring. (You don't have to worry about the moisture content of this kind of pile, nor does it need to be turned.) Conventional compost pile 8. Except for watering, let the pile sit undisturbed for two to three weeks. Then turn it,...

Compost More than Just a Fertilizer

Yeah, I also talk about compost in the fertilizer section, but compost is useful and necessary to your garden in so many ways other than as plain fertilizer. Because it's organically rich, with good texture, compost is just about the best thing you can add to soil. What works best really depends on the type and fertility of your native soil, but you can't go wrong digging in quite a lot of compost. Compost lightens heavy clay soil and gives needed substance to sandy soil. Less-extreme soils can still benefit. In any event, half-compost and half-native soil isn't excessive. Some really keen vegetable gardeners forgo native soil altogether and use 100 percent compost to grow incredible crops. Using solely compost is most feasible in raised beds. Roots relish it. You can get healthier, happier plants. Don't use soggy or overly dry compost. Compost should be fully decayed, dark in color and crumbly in texture. This issue is more significant with homemade compost than the bagged,...

Lets Have Tea and Compost

You can buy a complete outfit for brewing compost tea like E.J. Hook's. But commercial setups are much bigger than backyard gardeners need. So why not rig your own teapot for much less Start with good garden compost, a five-gallon bucket of water, and a small mesh or burlap bag. Half a gallon of compost, held loosely in the cloth bag, is about right for a five-gallon batch of tea. Add an aerator (a large aquarium air pump- 27 at Seattle pet stores-will work). This is important, because non-aerated compost tea becomes anaerobic, also known as a stinking mess, and can damage your plants. You'll then need to add a few ounces of nutrient to feed the billion tiny organisms you're about to produce. Plain, unsulphured molasses will work, but the commercial, pre-mixed SoilSoup ( 25 a gallon at seems to inspire more of the beneficial organisms to multiply like crazy, and that's what you're after. And a gallon goes a long way. Start the bubbler. Soak a half-gallon of compost...

Compost for germinating seedlings

The composition of a compost for seedling germination does not differ greatly from that produced for cuttings, except that a little more attention needs to be paid to the nutrient and chemical aspects. The basic components are peat and sand and for germination pure and simple this is sufficient. However if the seedlings are to remain in the compost for some time, add loam to act as a buffer in holding nutrients and controlling drying out. The amount of sterilized loam required need not be great a formula of 2 parts by volume peat, 2 parts sand and 1 part loam is satisfactory. As seeds are much more sensitive to the acidity in such a compost, lime in the form of ground chalk or ground limestone should be mixed in with the sand at the rate of ty oz per bushel of compost. Although it is not usual to include complicated nutrient mixes in seed composts, it is important to ensure that sufficient phosphate is available. Therefore also mix f oz superphosphate per bushel of compost in with the...

Buying compost in bulk

For larger quantities of compost, buy in bulk. The price is less in quantity, and you can check the quality of the compost as well. Many private companies, municipalities, and community groups make and sell compost. Often, they even deliver the compost to your yard for a fee. Use these tips to evaluate bulk compost Consider the source. Before buying the compost, ask about the primary, organic-matter sources that were used to make the compost. Compost made from yard waste (leaves and grass clippings) is considered to be the safest and best. Other compost may contain ingredients that had contaminants, such as herbicides from agricultural crop residues and heavy metals from municipal wastes, which may affect the growth of your plants or accumulate toxins in your soil. Ask if the finished product is tested for contaminants. Look at the color and texture. Finished compost should look dark and have a crumbly texture without any large pieces of undecomposed organic matter, such as branches...

Adding Fertilizers and Compost

Adding Fertilizers

Add fertilizers and other amendments one at a time. Avoid windy days, and hold the fertilizer close to the bed surface when spreading. Use the different colors to help you. The soil is dark, so sprinkle on a light-colored fertilizer (such as oyster shell flour) first, then a darker fertilizer (such as alfalfa meal), and so on. It is better to underapply the fertilizers because you can go back over the bed afterward to spread on any leftover, but it is difficult to pick up fertilizer if too much falls in one place. Aim for even distribution. Next, add compost and or aged manure. After all are applied, sift in the fertilizers and other amendments by inserting a spading fork 2 to 4 inches deep at a slant, then lifting it upward with a slight jiggling motion.

Ownerbuilt Composting Toilets

Owner-built composting toilets are in widespread use throughout the world since many people do not have the financial resources required to purchase commercially-produced toilets. Owner-built devices tend to be low-temperature composting toilets, although they can conceivably be thermophilic toilet systems if properly managed. The objectives of any composting toilet should be to achieve safe and sanitary treatment of fecal material, to conserve water, to function with a minimum of maintenance and energy consumption, to operate without unpleasant odors and to recycle humanure back to the soil. In order for this system to work well, each toilet must have a minimum of two chambers. Fecal material and urine are deposited into the first chamber until it's full, then the second chamber is used while the first ages. By the time the second side is full, the first should be ready to empty. It may take several years to fill a side, depending on its capacity and the number of users. In addition...

Four Necessities For Good Compost

A dry pile will not work it will just sit there and look bored. It's amazing how much moisture an active compost pile can absorb. When people who don't have any experience with compost try to picture a humanure compost pile in someone's backyard, they imagine a giant, fly-infested, smelly heap of excrement, draining all manner of noxious, stinky liquids out of the bottom of the compost pile. However, a compost pile is not a pile of garbage or waste. Thanks to the miracle of composting, the pile becomes a living, breathing, biological mass, an organic sponge that absorbs quite a bit of moisture. The pile is not likely to create a leaching problem unless subjected to sustained heavy rains then it can simply be covered. Why do compost piles require moisture For one thing, compost loses a lot of moisture into the air during the composting process, which commonly causes a compost pile to shrink 40-80 . Even when wet materials are composted, a pile can undergo...

The Ceaseless Cycle Of Compost Making

The Ceaseless Cycle Compost Making

Allow second side to age If you want your compost to age for two years instead of one, add a fourth bin to the system. Turning the compost is not necessary (read Chapter 3). A roof over the center bin will keep the cover material dry and unfrozen in the winter months in cold climates (see figure 8.4). attract flies should be dug into the top center of the pile. Keep a shovel or pitchfork handy for this purpose and use the tool only for the compost. Keep a clean cover material over the compost at all times and don't let your compost pile become shaped like the Matterhorn keep it somewhat flattened so nothing rolls off. When you have a sudden large quantity of cover material available, such as an influx of grass clippings when the lawn is mowed, weeds from the garden, or leaves in the fall, place them in the center bin for storage and use them to cover humanure deposits as you need them. It is assumed that you do not use any poisonous chemicals on your lawn. If you...

Potting composts for growing on young plants

The formulation of composts for the establishment and growing on of young plants follows on from seed composts in much the same pattern. It is necessary to prepare a compost that allows the development of a root system contains adequate water to support the plants and sufficient nutrients not to check growth has a suitable acidity alkalinity status and does not dry out too easily. Nowadays such composts are based on the use of peat, although traditionally the John Innes concepts were based on the use of sterilized loam. The recommendation of loam as a base for composts has had to be discontinued because it is no longer feasible to obtain a standard material on which a recipe can be formulated. Peat is capable of being relatively standardized and so currently forms the basis. It is important, however, to realize that loam has a steadying and controlling influence on both water and nutrient availability that peat does not provide, and so peat-based (that is, loamless) composts require a...

Composting How to Make Black Gold

Home Remedies For Aphids

Compost, the black crumbly material that remains after decomposition of plant residues and animal manures, is worth its weight in gold to the organic or sustainable grower, but it must be of good quality. Compost heaps can be made directly on the ground or in containers. A source of microbial inoculation, such as soil or commercially available compost starter, is also required. A proper mix of carbon and nitrogen in the starting materials is very important. Straw and dried leaves are high in carbon and are often combined in layers with grass clippings or kitchen scraps, which are high in nitrogen. Straw also helps to keep air in the pile, which encourages aerobic decomposition and prevents the formation of noxious gases. Growers may also add fresh animal manure or fish scraps to the compost pile as a source of nitrogen. Fresh manure is not appropriate for direct application to the garden, as it is too strong and may burn plant roots or spread disease-causing microbes such as E. coli....

Four Stages Of Compost

There is a huge difference between a backyard humanure composter and a municipal composter. Municipal composters handle large batches of organic materials all at once, while backyard com-posters continuously produce a small amount of organic material every day. Municipal composters, therefore, are batch composters, while backyard composters tend to be continuous composters. When organic material is composted in a batch, four distinct stages of the composting process are apparent. Although the same phases occur during continuous composting, they are not as apparent as they are in a batch, and in fact they may be occurring concurrently rather than sequentially. Compost bacteria combine carbon with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and energy. Some of the energy is used by the microorganisms for reproduction and growth the rest is given off as heat. When a pile of organic refuse begins to undergo the composting process, mesophilic bacteria proliferate, raising the temperature of the...

Microorganisms In Compost

A mystery presents itself, on the other hand, when we consider thermophilic microorganisms, since they prefer living at temperatures not commonly found in nature, such as hot springs, water heaters and compost piles. Their preference for hot temperatures has given rise to some speculation about their evolution. One theory suggests that the thermophiles were among the first living things on this planet, developing and evolving during the primordial birthing of the Earth when surface temperatures were quite hot. They have thus been called the Universal Ancestor. Estimated at 3.6 billion years old, they are said to be so abundant as to comprise as much as half of all living things on the planet. 25 This is a rather profound concept, as it would mean that thermophilic organisms are perhaps more ancient than any other living thing. Their age would make dinosaurs look like new-born babes still wet behind the ears, however extinct. Of course, we humans, in comparison, have just shown up on...

Commercial Composting Toilets

Compost Latrine

Commercial composting toilets have been popular in Scandinavia for some time at least twenty-one different composting toilets were on the market in Norway alone in 1975.9 One of the most popular types of commercially available composting toilets in the United States today is the multrum toilet, invented by a Swedish engineer and first put into production in 1964. Fecal material and urine are deposited together into a single chamber with a double bottom. The decomposition takes place over a period of years, and the finished compost gradually falls down to the very bottom of the toilet chamber where it can be removed. Again, the decomposition temperatures remain cool, not usually climbing above 320C (900F). Therefore, it is recommended that the finished compost be buried under one foot of soil or used in an ornamental garden.10 Because no water is used or required during the operation of this toilet, human excrement is kept out of water supplies. According to one report, a single person...

Normal Composting Bin Sequence

Humanure Compost Bin

It's very important to understand that two factors are involved in destroying potential pathogens in humanure. Along with heat, the time factor is important. Once the organic material in a compost pile has been heated by thermophilic microorganisms, it should be left to age or season. This part of the process allows for the final decomposition to take place, decomposition that may be dominated by fungi and macroorganisms such as earthworms and sowbugs. Therefore, a good compost system will utilize at least two composting bins, one to fill and leave to age, and another to fill while the first is aging. A three-binned composting system is even better, as the third bin provides a place to store cover materials, and separates the active bins so there is no possible accidental transfer of fresh material to an aging bin. When composting humanure, fill one bin first. Start the compost pile by establishing a thick layer of coarse and absorbent organic material on the bottom of the bin. This...

Practice Makes Compost

Have Your Shit Together

After reading this chapter one may become overwhelmed with all that is involved in composting bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, thermophiles, mesophiles, C N ratios, oxygen, moisture, temperatures, bins, pathogens, curing and biodiversity. How do you translate this into your own personal situation and locate it all in your own backyard How does one become an accomplished composter, a master composter That's easy just do it. Then keep doing it. Throw the books away (not this one, of course) and get some good, old-fashioned experience. There's no better way to learn. Book learning will only get you so far, but not far enough. A book such as this one is for inspiring you, for sparking your interest, and for reference. But you have to get out there and do it if you really want to learn. work with the compost, get the feel of the process, look at your compost, smell the finished product, buy or borrow a compost thermometer and get an idea of how well your compost is heating up, then use your...

The Secret To Composting Humanure Is To Keep It Covered

Always cover toilet deposits again, after adding them to the compost pile, with a clean cover material such as hay, straw, weeds, grass clip pings, leaves or other suitable material in order to prevent odors and flies, to create air spaces in the compost pile and to balance the nitrogen. Such cover materials also add a blend of organic materials to the compost, and the variety supports a healthier microbial population. Always cover toilet deposits again, after adding them to the compost pile, with a clean cover material such as hay, straw, weeds, grass clip already in use. After the first is filled (presumably for a year), it is left to rest for two years. The second is filled during the second year, then it is left to rest for two years. The third is filled during the third year. By the time the third is filled, the first has aged for two years and should be pathogen-free and ready for agricultural use. This system will create an initial lag-time of three years before compost is...

When is compost ready

Or, to put it another way, how long is a piece of string All the dead plant material in your garden would rot down and eventually disappear of its own accord, without your assistance, if you just left it alone. The same would happen to green kitchen waste if you just threw it out of the back door onto the nearest flower bed. In practice, this means that compost is ready when you think it is. The high-fibre heap, based on paper, card, and soft, green waste only, will produce a fine compost relatively quickly, in which none of the original ingredients will be recognizable. A heap that started out with a lot of woody material will look twiggy for a lot longer. From a garden-worthy perspective, the difference is immaterial both textures of compost will do exactly the same job in the garden, equally effectively. The only reason to prefer fine material - apart from its appearance - is if you plan to make your own potting compost, for which coarse material is unsuitable. Don't be misled into...

Composting Methods Compared

The grow biointensive method of making compost differs in particular from the biodynamic method in that the grow biointensive method is simpler, normally uses no manure, and usually uses no herbal solutions to stimulate microorganism growth.6 Manure, used continually and in large amounts in biodynamic compost piles, is an imbalanced fertilizer, although it is a good texturizing agent because of its usual decomposed sawdust content. Rather than using herbal solutions, grow biointensive practices sometimes use weeds, such as stinging nettle, and other plants, such as fava beans, as part of the ingredients in compost piles. Special compost recipes may be created in grow biointensive to meet particular pH, structure, and nutrient requirements. The grow biointensive method of making compost differs from the Rodale method we use little or no manure and usually no rock powder fertilizers or nitrogen supplements.7 Fertilizers do not need to be added to the pile since successful compost can be...

Measuring compost structure

Compost structural properties were quantified by measurements of particle size distribution and water retention capacity (Dresboll and Thorup-Kristensen, submitted B). As these were the initial tentative comparisons between composts based on different structural material, these parameters were expected to be sufficient. Particle size is generally determined by sieve fractionation (Agnew and Leonard, 2003), but this has been found to underestimate the fractions of small particles. Thus, in order to determine small fractions as well, particle size was determined by software analysis of a scanned picture of 1 g compost (Clemmensen, pers.comm.). This method can be criticised by the small sample size which to some extent can be overcome by a high number of replicates. Nonetheless, it has proved to be an illustrative method (Dresboll and Thorup-Kristensen, submitted B). Beside the quantitative measurement it also provided a qualitative knowledge of the surface appearance and the geometry of...

To build a compost heap

How Build Organic Compost Area

Compost should be ready to use in ten to 12 weeks in the summer months, or three to five months during winter. In colder areas compost can take longer. If you're adding seaweed to the compost heap it should be washed first with a garden hose or else leave this job to the rain. Seaweed contains an excellent assortment of secondary and trace elements. To be ready to use, the compost should be cool, dark, friable in consistency and sweet smelling Add compost to your garden at a Compost water can be used for sick plants and seedlings. Fill a large bucket half full of finished compost, add water to the top and stir it gently. Use the residue as a mulch. Compost can also be used as a valuable top dressing for house plants every time you water the plants they will receive essential nutrients promoting health and vigour. I have found it a good idea to set aside time for actually 'putting together' the compost ingredients. Quite often, without thinking, large amounts of green material (like...

Reasons to compost and reasons not to

The sustainable landscape is cyclical, not linear nothing goes to waste in a sustainable system. Nowhere is this truer than in the dance between living plants and compost. You have the opportunity to take part in one of the great cycles of life, and the payoff for you is healthier plants, lower fertilizer bills, richer soil, and less green waste being hauled away by noisy diesel-spewing trucks. This benefit is reason enough to compost, but when you finally harvest your finished compost and run the silky, fragrant stuff through your hands, you finally understand what it means to be a truly sustainable gardener. Some circumstances may make composting impractical or unnecessary. One is lack of space for a compost pile, but that's a pretty lame excuse since some compost containers take up a tiny 2 x 2 foot area. You can even use worm composters in the kitchen. A more legit reason to not have a composting system is that your landscaping doesn't generate enough green waste to supply it....

Composting for Vegetable Gardens

Perhaps you've been wondering why so many vegetable gardeners have compost piles. The short answer is that it's downright sensible. Compost is a bountiful and free source of organic matter, which vegetables adore and consume like crazy. To have it always handy when you need it is unbeatable. Compost is a pile of organic waste that breaks down into rich, dark, crumbly material that jubilant gardeners call black gold It's an excellent way to add humus to your garden, and it also acts as a natural, slow-release fertilizer. You also get to feel virtuous and efficient because you're not sending perfectly useful materials away with the household garbage. Store-bought compost, bag for bag, may not strike you as terribly expensive, but it really starts to add up when you're starting or caring for a vegetable garden. You're better off making your own. And hey, it's easy. Okay, here's the short course on creating compost for your vegetable garden. If you have need of mountains of compost or get...

Classic composting

The traditional advice for constructing a classic compost heap is quite simple. First, collect together a mixture of soft, nitrogen-rich waste and tougher, carbon-rich material. Shred any tree and shrub prunings. Second, start filling your compost bin with layers of different materials, adding a spadeful of compost or soil now and then - the right micro-organisms will colonize your heap eventually anyway, but there's no harm in giving them a helping hand. Carry on until your heap measures at least one cubic metre (1 cu.yd), or more if possible. If the heap seems dry, water it. Cover it with the bin lid or a piece of old carpet. Sounds simple, doesn't it Unfortunately, it's this stately home approach that caused generations of gardeners to abandon the whole idea of making compost. In fact, this


With all the environmental concerns about garbage disposal, composting in your own back yard is more important than ever. The compost heap can be a positive step toward recycling Mother Nature's bounty and improving your garden. It is simple. fall leaves, cut grass, and kitchen vegetable scraps recycled in your garden will improve the texture and nutritional content, and encourage earthworms and beneficial bacteria. Compost breaks down into humus, which reduces the need for fertilizer and water. Composting can be as simple as a pile of grass cuttings behind the garage or as elaborate as a purchased composter that is attractive enough to sit by the back door. The principle behind composting is to pile the material high, reducing the amount of surface exposed to slow down evaporation. The pile must stay moist to encourage a This compost starter bin is easy to make from four 4-foot posts, set in a rectangle, wrapped in chicken wire. If the chicken wire is secured loosely on the fourth...

Need lor Compost

There is one thing that commercial growers don't have, but you should have, and that is compost. If you don't have any, you may be able to find it nearby. Many communities collect leaves in the fall and compost them, offering the decomposed material free to community residents. Since compost is nothing but leaves and other vegetable matter that have decomposed, you might scout around your neighborhood. Try the town dump or an area where the town sweepers deposit their loads. Local farms may have piles of manure or hay that has decomposed. These are fine for your compost ingredient. The easiest place to get raw materials for your compost pile is at grocery stores. They throw out crate after crate of spoiled cabbage and lettuce, beet tops, carrot tops, and all types of greens. A friendly visit with the produce manager will assure you of a continual supply. Because it's green and moist, it will start decaying rapidly in your compost pile. Don't put it directly into your garden. If you...


Compost is a dark, soil-like material made of decomposed organic matter. Many gardeners depend on composting as a means of using garden refuse to maintain organic matter levels in their soils. On a larger scale there is interest in the use of composted town refuse for horticultural purposes. Many councils are now collecting 'green waste' and supplying composting equipment to encourage householders to recycle organic matter, as well as paper, glass and metals. Horticulturists are increasingly concerned with the recycling of wastes and attention is being given to modern composting methods. It is fundamental to successful organic growing. For successful composting, conditions must be favourable for the decomposers. The material must be moist and well aerated throughout. As the heap is built, separate layers of lime and nitrogen are added as necessary to ensure the correct pH and C N ratio. Organic waste brought together in large enough quantities under ideal conditions and turned...

All About Compost

One of the most important fertilisers in an organic garden is compost. A small amount of this wonderful material mixed with the soil can give greatly improved plant growth. It will promote the biological activity so essential in organic growing. Many people think that compost is made by simply throwing kitchen scraps and garden refuse into a pile and letting it rot. This is not the case at all. Good compost contains many different ingredients. Most essential are manures such as cow, horse and poultry. Other ingredients are feathers, blood, fish, leaves, grass clippings, weeds, sawdust, wood shavings, kitchen scraps and seaweed. Poultry manures and fish wastes are high in nitrogen and supply proteins for the composting organisms. Lime or dolomite also adds valuable magnesium. Add about 2.5 cups per cubic metre of raw compost. Rock phosphate will also enrich the compost (about 1.5 cups per cubic metre). To speed production and decay, compost can be inoculated with herbs such as yarrow...

Recycling Humanure

Humanure can be naturally recycled by feeding it to the organisms that crave it as food. These voracious creatures have been around for millions, and theoretically, billions of years. They've patiently waited for us humans to discover them. Mother Nature has seeded our excrements, as well as our garbage, with these friends in small places, who will convert our organic discards into a soil-building material right before our eyes. Invisible helpers, these creatures are too small to be seen by the human eye and are therefore called microorganisms. The process of feeding organic material to these microorganisms in the presence of oxygen is called composting. Proper composting ensures the destruction of potential human pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms) in humanure. Composting also converts the humanure into a new, benign, pleasant-smelling and beneficial substance called humus, which is then returned to the soil to enrich it and enhance plant growth. Incidentally, all animal...


Basically a compost is a soil substitute for propagating and establishing plants, lo carry out this function a compost requires certain properties to be well aerated, to retain water, to hold nutrients and to conduct warmth. Thus in constituting a compost the components used should be chosen to establish these particular conditions as well as maintaining them throughout the life of the compost. In order to prevent the occurrence of pests, diseases and weeds the component materials should also be sterile. The only component of a compost that is not initially sterile is the loam. To sterilize it place the loam in a broad, flat container such as a meat tin and put in the oven at 82 C 180 F for 30 minutes. Best results are obtained if the loam is dryish and if the tin is covered with foil so that the steam generated encourages the sterilizing effect. Cool and riddle the loam before use.

Compost basics

People write college theses on compost, but don't let that worry you all the science you need to know is in the next twelve pages. Essentially, the perfect compost pile needs the right mix of ingredients, plenty of water (but not too much), warmth, and lots of air. Ultimately, animals and microorganisms that turn plant material into compost need to eat the same things that you do. They need energy, most conveniently supplied by carbohydrates. In your case, this means starch and sugars from bread, potatoes, rice, and fruit. The main carbohydrate in plants is cellulose you can't break this down, but compost microorganisms can. They also need nitrogen and phosphorus, to make proteins and other vital molecules. Carbohydrates contain carbon, which provides energy and is the main structural element of living organisms. In practice, anything that contains plenty of nitrogen usually also has lots of phosphorus and other essential elements. A useful, shorthand way to describe compost...

Potting compost

There was a time when potting compost was a problem for green, organic gardeners. All the major brands were peat-based and if you wanted a peat-free, soil-less potting compost (that is, not a loam-based type), you had to make your own. Many of the early peat-free composts, based on coir or composted wood waste, performed poorly or were very variable. Thankfully, things have changed and the best modern, peat-free composts are both reliable and perform extremely well. Nor will making your own compost from home-made ingredients give better results than the best commercial, peat-free brands. It will save you money but, unless you use a lot of potting compost, not a great deal. Having said all that, if you still want to make your own potting compost,

Woody garden waste

First, prunings, hedge trimmings, and woody material generally have a high C N ratio, so they are high in carbon and low in nitrogen. This in itself slows down decomposition, but that's only half the problem. The other half is that cellulose is only one of the carbon-rich materials in plants. Another, which may make up 20-30 percent of wood, is lignin. Lignin's chief disadvantage is that composting bacteria are not good at breaking it down. Second, woody waste has much bigger stems than green waste, so it has a low surface area compared to its volume. This doesn't give bacteria and other organisms much to work on. The third problem is the exact opposite of that afflicting a pile of grass mowings, which collapses and runs out of air. A pile of raw prunings, by contrast, contains far too much air, and dries out too quickly. For some gardeners, these problems seem so intractable that composting doesn't look like a serious option. But

Where to use compost

For many gardeners, making and using compost still has a slightly old-fashioned air, a whiff of dig-for-victory. It's therefore easy to get the impression that compost is only for the vegetable plot. There is some truth in this the vegetable plot is the only part of the garden where all plant material is routinely harvested, and if you're taking a lot out, it pays to put something back in. It's also in the vegetable plot that the effect of compost is most easily measured tests show that you can expect application of a 5-10cm (2-4in) layer of garden compost to double yields of cabbages, leeks, or potatoes. Most other kinds of organic material will work just as well, but no better -

Compost structure

The structure of plant based compost is dependent on the material, the initial particle size and the degree of shredding. Thus, the structure can be adjusted from the start and knowledge on the extent and rate of decomposition in different plant types can be used to successfully produce a plant based growing media. In general, many decomposition studies focus on what is degraded. However, when using composted plant materials as growing medium the quality of the parts remaining after degradation are equally important.

Why compost

There are plenty of very good reasons for gardeners to make compost, but above all, it spares the environment the damage caused by burying or burning waste, reduces the need to destroy natural habitats by excavating peat, and saves you money. US household garbage adds up to more than 200 million tons a year, or roughly 5 pounds (2 kg) per person per day, of which about a quarter is recycled. Only about ten percent of British household waste is recycled, which puts the UK near the bottom of the European league. Some countries, like Germany and Denmark, do much better, although a few are even worse. Most waste is incinerated or ends up in landfill, yet about half of all household waste could be composted. The soil is also the safest place for waste organic matter. Once returned to temperate soils as compost, some organic matter stays there, often for a long time. More widespread use of compost by farmers and gardeners could make a small but significant contribution to the commitments...

Can be composted

Most types of paper and cardboard make excellent compost ingredients. Large quantities of flat paper should be avoided, and in any case are more suitable for conventional recycling. However, such materials may be used in moderation if you are short of other types of waste paper printing inks no longer contain toxic heavy metals. Better for compost are those types of paper that are harder to recycle, such as used tissues and cereal boxes. Birthdays are bonanza times for the serious composter, with all that wrapping paper. Cardboard with laminated plastic should be avoided the cardboard will compost okay, but you will have the annoying job of fishing the plastic out of the finished compost. And if you're alarmed by media stories of identity theft and are worried about what to do with all those old bank statements and credit-card bills, here's the perfect solution compost them.

How to mix composts

The important aspect of mixing compost is to obtain an even and uniform end product. Thorough mixing of the ingredients is essential. It is also easier if you have a bushel or half-bushel box on which to base the formula as lime and fertilizers are normally added at a bushel rate. (A bushel is the amount that will fit into a box 22 in x 10 in x 10 in without compacting.)

Cuttings compost

The formulation of a compost for rooting cuttings really only requires two considerations the retention of sufficient moisture to help prevent desiccation of the cutting, and the provision of an aerating agent so that air can always circulate within the medium. Although these two components provide the basic compost they can be substituted with such items as sedge peat, well-weathered sawdust, perlite, vermiculite and graded coal dust in fact by any material that has suitable Cuttings composts are usually formulated by evenly mixing equal parts by volume of peat and grit, although it is often difficult to assess how much sieved peat there is in a particular mix. In the end there is no substitute to determining the feel of the compost and whether it has the right properties.

Compost for realists

Woody waste can cause such trouble that I'm going to start out by assuming you don't have any. Later, we will see what can be done with woody waste, but first let's consider what you can do realistically with the soft garden and household waste and lawn mowings. For the average gardener, the easiest way to cope with most soft waste is to make a high-fibre compost heap. The method described here is based on that developed by the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Wales, in the UK. Green kitchen and garden waste and paper and card are essential ingredients. Any paper or card you add to a high-fibre heap should be crumpled to make irregular, three-dimensional shapes. Egg boxes and toilet-roll tubes are perfect without any pre-treatment. Start with a layer of paper and card to improve the drainage at the base, then just add paper and green waste as it comes along -no need for any distinct layering. The only rules are to make sure that you have approximately equal volumes of paper...

Green Waste

Green waste is a fancy term for the plant parts we cut off and send to that magical place called away. Sometimes green waste ends up in landfills, and sometimes it comes back to us as mulch. But the truth is that, in most cases, green waste doesn't need to exist in the first place. It's caused by poor design that puts plants in spaces that are too small for their eventual size, requiring the gardener to trim or prune the plant to fit the size the gardener wants it it be (instead of the size the plant has evolved to be). Plants all have genetic destinies to develop in certain time-honored ways. They grow to fulfill their destinies, often to the detriment of the garden and the gardener. Want proof I once saw a hedge made of young redwood trees (you know, the ones that grow 30-foot trunks ). Fifty-four of these trees were placed a foot apart in a tiny planter space only 8 inches wide. What do you suppose the people who created this landscaping nightmare were thinking The existence of...

Loam composts

Loam composts, typified by John Innes composts, are based on loam sterilized to eliminate the soil-borne fungi (see damping off) and insects that largely caused the unreliable results from traditional composts. There is a risk of ammonia toxicity developing after sterilization of soil with pH greater than 6.5 or very high in organic matter (see nitrogen cycle). Induced nutrient deficiencies are possible in soils with a pH greater than 6.5 or less than 5.5. Furthermore, loam should have sufficient clay and organic matter present to give good structural stability (the original specification identifies 'turfy clay loam'). Peat and sand are added to further improve the physical conditions the peat gives a high water-holding capacity and the coarse sand ensures free drainage and therefore good aeration. There are two main John Innes composts, one for seed sowing and cuttings, the other for potting. John Innes seed compost consists of 2 parts loam, 1 part peat and 1 part sand by volume....

The Compost Bins

A sawdust toilet requires three components 1) the toilet receptacle 2) cover materials and 3) a compost bin system. The system will not work without all three of these components. The toilet is only the collection stage of the process. Since the composting takes place away from the toilet, the compost bin system is important. 1) Use at least a double-chambered, above-ground compost bin. A three-chambered bin is recommended. Deposit in one chamber for a period of time (e.g., a year), then switch to another for an equal period of time. 2) Deposit a good mix of organic material into the compost pile, including kitchen scraps. It's a good idea to put all of your organic material into the same compost bin. Pay no attention to those people who insist that humanure compost should be segregated from other compost. They are people who do not compost humanure and don't know what they're talking about. 3) Always cover humanure deposits in the toilet with an organic cover material such as...

Compost mixes

Usually advantageous, 'heavier' composts are sometimes formulated to give pot stability for taller specimens. This should not be achieved by compressing the lightweight compost, but by incorporating denser materials such as sand. Quick-growing plants are normally the aim and loosely filling containers with the correct compost formulation, consolidated with a presser board and settling it with applications of water obtain this. Firming with a rammer reduces the total pore space whilst increasing the amount of compost and nutrients in the container. The reduction in air-filled porosity and available water with an increase in soluble salt concentration leads to slower growing, harder plants (see conductivity). The addition of nutrients must take into account not only the plant requirements, but also the nutrient characteristics of the ingredients used. Most loamless composts require trace element supplements and many, including those based on peat, need the addition of all major...

Compost mixing

Polystyrene Hydroponics

It is most important when making up the desired compost formulation to achieve a uniform product and, commercially, it must be undertaken with a minimum labour input. The ingredients of the compost must be as near as possible to the specification for the chosen formulation. Materials must not be too moist when mixing because it then becomes impossible to achieve an even distribution of nutrients. There are several designs of compost mixer. Continuous mixers are usually employed by specialist compost mixing firms and require careful supervision to ensure a satisfactory product. Batch mixers of the 'concrete mixer' design are produced for a wide range of capacities to cover most nursery needs. Many of the bigger mixers have attachments which aid filling. Emptying equipment is often linked to automatic tray or pot-filling machines. Ingredients used in loamless composts or growing modules do not normally require partial sterilization unless they are being reused, but sterilizing equipment...

Compost Miracles

Compost Tea Brewer Plans

Compost can degrade toxic chemicals Compost microorganisms not only convert organic material into humus, but they also degrade toxic chemicals into simpler, benign, organic molecules. These chemicals include gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, oil, grease, wood preservatives, PCBs, coal gasification wastes, refinery wastes, insecticides, herbicides, TNT, and other explosives.59 In one experiment in which compost piles were laced with insecticides and herbicides, the insecticide (carbofuran) was completely degraded, and the herbicide (triazine) was 98.6 degraded after 50 days of composting. Soil contaminated with diesel fuel and gasoline was composted, and after 70 days in the compost pile, the total petroleum hydrocarbons were reduced approximately 93 .60 Soil contaminated with Dicamba herbicide at a level of 3,000 parts per million showed no detectable levels of the toxic contaminant after only 50 days of composting. In the absence of composting, this biodegradation process normally...


Vermicomposting, or worm composting, involves the use of redworms such as Eisenis fetida or Lumbricus rubellus to consume organic material either in specially designed worm boxes, or in large-scale, outdoor compost piles. Redworms prefer a dark, cool, well-aerated space, and thrive on moist bedding such as shredded newspaper. Kitchen food scraps placed in worm boxes are consumed by the worms and converted into worm castings, which can then be used like finished compost to grow plants. Vermicomposting is popular among children who like to watch the worms, and among adults who prefer the convenience of being able to make compost under their kitchen counter or in a household closet. as earthworms, it is not the same as thermophilic composting. The hot stage of thermophilic composting will drive away all earthworms from the hot area of the compost pile. However, they will migrate back in after the compost cools down. Earthworms are reported to actually eat root-feeding nematodes,...

Compost Biodiversity

Compost Anaerobic

Compost is normally populated by three general categories of microorganisms bacteria, actinomycetes and fungi (see Figure 3.3 and Table 3.6). It is primarily the bacteria, and specifically the ther-mophilic bacteria, that create the heat of the compost pile. Although considered bacteria, actinomycetes are effectively intermediates between bacteria and fungi because they look similar to fungi and have similar nutritional preferences and growth habits. They tend to be more commonly found in the later stages of compost, and are generally thought to follow the thermophilic bacteria in succession. They, in turn, are followed predominantly by fungi during the last stages of the composting process. There are at least 100,000 known species of fungi, the overwhelming majority of them being microscopic.31 Most fungi cannot grow at 500C because it's too hot, although thermophilic fungi are heat tolerant. Fungi tend to be absent in compost above 600C and actino-mycetes tend to be absent above...

Asian Composting

Vietnam Toilet System

It is well known that Asians have recycled humanure for centuries, possibly millennia. How did they do it Historical information concerning the composting of humanure in Asia seems difficult to find. Rybczynski et al. state that composting was only introduced to China in a systematic way in the 1930s and that it wasn't until 1956 that composting toilets were used on a wide scale in Vietnam.1 On the other hand, Franceys et al. tell us that composting has been practiced by farmers and gardeners throughout the world for many centuries. They add that, In China, the practice of composting huma-nure with crop residues has enabled the soil to support high population densities without loss of fertility for more than 4000 years. 2 However, a book published in 1978 and translated directly from the original Chinese indicates that composting has not been a cultural practice in China until only recently. An agricultural report from the Province of Hopei, for example, states that the standardized...

Compost Defined

According to the dictionary, compost is a mixture of decomposing vegetable refuse, manure, etc. for fertilizing and conditioning the soil. The Practical Handbook of Compost Engineering defines composting with a mouthful The biological decomposition and stabilization of organic substrates, under conditions that allow development of thermophilic temperatures as a result of biologically produced heat, to produce a final product that is stable, free of pathogens and plant seeds, and can be beneficially applied to land. The On-Farm Composting Handbook says that compost is a The Compost Council adds their two-cents worth in defining compost Compost is the stabilized and sanitized product of composting compost is largely decomposed material and is in the process of humification (curing). Compost has little resemblance in physical form to the original material from which it is made. That last sentence should be particularly reassuring to the humanure composter. J. I. Rodale states it a bit...

The Tao Of Compost

Organic material should be recycled by every person on the planet, and recycling should be as normal as brushing teeth or bathing. Organic materials can be collected by municipalities and composted at central composting facilities. This is now done in many parts of the world where food discards are composted for urban communities. Toilet materials are not yet being collected and centrally composted in very many places, although such collection will undoubtedly increase as time passes. We can compost our own organic material in our own personal compost bins in our own backyards. This is already becoming commonplace and compost bins are now popping up in backyards everywhere like mushrooms after a rain. Composting need not cost money and it can be practiced by anyone in the world at probably any location where plants can grow. Therefore, it is important that we learn to understand what compost is and how it can be made. It is also important that we understand how to compost our toilet...

Fourteen day compost

You can make compost in 14 days, using the following method. 9. Continue in this way until the first mixture has reached the seventh bin. By this time the compost should be cool to touch, sweet-smelling, and ready to use. You can use this method of compost-making if you need compost quickly, or if you need a continuous supply.

Leave it where it falls

Autumn leaves and shredded woody material also make excellent mulches, and don't really need to be processed through a compost heap. You may be told that these low-nutrient materials will rob your soil of nitrogen, and so they will - but only if you dig them in. Apply them as a mulch and this problem disappears. That leaves kitchen waste. One option is a wormery (see pages 140-145) but, if you have a vegetable plot, there are others. A small compost bin could be incorporated into the crop-rotation cycle in a vegetable plot (see page 133), but if you want to do this, why bother with a bin at all The usual objections to open compost heaps are that they aren't very attractive and that many of the nutrients are leached away into the soil, but

Close Encounters Of The Turd Kind

Simple methods of collecting and composting humanure are sometimes called cartage systems or bucket systems, as the manure is carried to the compost bin, often in buckets or other waterproof vessels. People who utilize such simple techniques for composting humanure simply take it for granted that humanure recycling is one of the regular and necessary responsibilities for sustainable human life on this planet. Full buckets are carried to the composting area and deposited on the pile (you'll know that a bucket is full enough to empty when you have to stand up to take a shit). Since the material must be moved from the toilet room to an outdoor compost pile, the toilet room should be handy to an outside door. If you are designing a sawdust toilet in a new home, situate the toilet room near a door that allows direct access to the outside. It is best to dig a slight depression in the top center of the compost pile in the outdoor compost bin, then deposit the fresh toilet material there, in...

Parasitic Worm Egg Death

Source Compost, Fertilizer, and Biogas Production from Human and Farm Wastes in the People's Republic of China, (1978), M. G. McGarry and J. Stainforth, editors, International Development Research Center, Ottawa, Canada. p. 43. mophilic compost system is important. Nevertheless, there is no proven, natural, low-tech method for destroying human pathogens in organic refuse that is as successful and accessible to the average human as well-managed thermophilic composting. But what happens when the compost is not well-managed How dangerous is the undertaking when those involved do not make an effort to ensure that the compost maintains thermophilic temperatures In fact, this is normally what happens in most owner-built and commercial composting toilets. Thermophilic composting does not occur in owner-built toilets because those responsible often make no effort to create the organic blend of ingredients and the environment needed for such a microbial response. In the case of most commercial...

When The Crap Hit The

While the Asians were practicing sustainable agriculture and recycling their organic resources and doing so over millennia, what were the people of the West doing What were the Europeans and those of European descent doing Why weren't our European ancestors returning their manures to the soil, too After all, it does make sense. The Asians who recycled their manures not only recovered a resource and reduced pollution, but by returning their excrement to the soil, they succeeded in reducing threats to their health. There was no putrid sewage collecting and breeding disease germs. Instead, the humanure was, for the most part, undergoing a natural, non-chemical purification process in the soil which required no technology. Granted, a lot of night soil in the Far East today is not composted and is the source of health problems. However, even the returning of humanure raw to the land succeeds in destroying many human pathogens in the manure and returns nutrients to the soil. Perhaps the...

More slowly than a dry one

Water is also a much better conductor of heat than air, which is why cold water always feels much colder than air at the same temperature. So a wet compost heap loses heat more quickly than a dry one. In fact, although this is unlikely to happen to you, spontaneous fires at commercial composting sites are not that uncommon, and are usually caused by a large heap that is (at least in part) too dry. The message is that moisture content is critical it must be high enough to allow composting to occur, but not so high that heat is lost too quickly. On a domestic scale, the moisture content of a compost heap is difficult to measure or control quite small variations in moisture content are probably responsible for the rather unpredictable behaviour of the typical heap. Finally, does it work That is, if you have survived the assault course needed to assemble a compost heap in the required manner, will it do what it should do The Royal Horticultural Society research described previously (see...

What else can you use

The principal goal of composting is to recycle organic matter on the spot, without the awful waste of energy involved in moving it around the country first. Therefore, imported materials should not be added routinely to the compost heap. On the other hand, if there are local sources of composting ingredients that are available cheaply, or perhaps even free, it would be foolish to ignore them. If your organic waste goes to a local composting scheme, it will be composted at a high temperature under controlled conditions. The resulting compost will be a clean, safe, weed-free material that can be bought and used straightaway in the garden. However, in common with other commercial soil conditioners that are based on recycled garden or forestry waste, it tends to be slightly alkaline, so is not suitable for use around rhododendrons or other acid-loving plants.

More On Parasitic Worms

Toilets, the eggs of some intestinal parasites, if present, may survive the composting process. temperatures of most commercial composting toilets and mouldering Due to the low composting toilets, the eggs of some intestinal parasites, if present, may survive the composting process. Transmission of Pathogens Through Low-Temperature Composting Toilets temperatures of most commercial composting toilets and mouldering Due to the low composting culated that they got them from our compost. We were also told to worm our cats to prevent pinworms in the kids (these rumors allegedly originated in a doctor's office). Yet, the pinworm life cycle does not include a stage in soil, compost, manure or cats. These unpleasant parasites are spread from human to human by direct contact, and by inhaling eggs.

Essential Reading For Insomniacs

COMPOST MICROORGANISMS MAGNIFIED 1,000 TIMES COMPOST MICROORGANISMS MAGNIFIED 1,000 TIMES Reproduced with permission from On-Farm Composting Handbook. NRAES-54, published by NRAES, Cooperative Extension, 152 Riley-Robb Hall, Ithaca, New York 14853-5701. (607) 255-7654. Quantities of microorganisms from Sterritt, Robert M. (1988). Microbiology for Environmental and Public Health Engineers. p. 200. E. & F. N. Spon Ltd., New York, NY 10001 USA. Reproduced with permission from On-Farm Composting Handbook. NRAES-54, published by NRAES, Cooperative Extension, 152 Riley-Robb Hall, Ithaca, New York 14853-5701. (607) 255-7654. Quantities of microorganisms from Sterritt, Robert M. (1988). Microbiology for Environmental and Public Health Engineers. p. 200. E. & F. N. Spon Ltd., New York, NY 10001 USA.

Simply leave it for a year while you fill the other bin

This two all-purpose bins system works well, as long as you make sure that each bin is big enough to take a year's waste without it overflowing. Because the compost includes some woody waste, the finished product is always a bit twiggy, but that shouldn't be a problem. Material that's too tough to compost can be pushed under a hedge or made into a habitat pile in an out-of-the-way corner. If there's too much of the tough stuff, take or send it to your local community composting scheme. it would be a gratuitous lie to describe it as a wildflower meadow. Both are cut once a year, and each generates a mountain of material that completely overwhelms the smooth running of my normal compost system. I don't have a shredder, so my hedge trimmings are taken away and composted by my local waste-disposal company. The hay from the meadow goes onto its own, open heap, which I occasionally excavate to retrieve quite decent compost from the bottom.

Are patience and space

Shredded woody material with added activators should make decent compost in a year, but on its own may take two years, while unshredded material may take three years. This means you will always have two or three heaps underway at any time, so you'll need room to accommodate these. Fortunately, the gardens that produce large quantities of woody waste are most likely to be those with space to deal with it. The traditional advice on composting tree leaves is clear and unambiguous don't bother. Leaves from trees are low in nitrogen and calcium and high in carbon, especially in tough, indigestible stuff like lignin (the main component of wood) and tannins, so they are best kept away from the compost heap. Yet not all tree leaves are the same, and the usual advice is founded on the assumption that gardeners can't tell them apart. The real story, for gardeners who can tell them apart, is that leaves of some trees are tough and slow to break down. However, other leaves are much richer in...

You cant have too much air

Composting is an aerobic process, which is a fancy way of saying it needs air. What's more, air is probably even more important than food the average compost pile runs out of air long before it runs out of food. If there isn't enough air, decomposition becomes anaerobic, which is bad news for two reasons. First, it's much slower than aerobic composting, and second, some of the products, such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, don't smell very nice. Traditional advice is to turn compost piles, specifically to introduce more air, but the perceived need to turn piles regularly is enough to put many gardeners off the whole idea of composting. Which brings us to a central dilemma nitrogen-rich materials such as annual weeds and kitchen waste decompose quickly, but lack structural strength. As soon as they begin decomposing, they lose what little structure they have and collapse into an airless, smelly mess. up with coarse, twiggy compost. Shredding woody waste first helps it to break down...

As it appears especially

If you have a shredder, modest quantities of shredded, woody material may be added to a high-fibre compost heap. They will still break down more slowly than the soft wastes, but the smaller Unshredded woody waste can be treated in exactly the same way as shredded, but will take an extremely long time to break down. In fact, sticks or stems thicker than 2cm ( in) will take so long to rot that composting is not a realistic option - the habitat pile or the bonfire are best for this larger stuff. To speed things up, you need to address the tendency of woody waste to dry out. This means it needs to go in a closed bin, ideally taller than it is wide, so that its own weight tends to compress it and reduce the large air spaces. It also helps to add other things that will help to fill in the spaces, such as old potting compost and soil. When you pull up weeds, don't knock any of the soil off the roots just add the whole lot to the heap. The good thing about a heap like this is that it will...

Shred and use directly as a mulch

If you have a shredder, this is the simplest solution (see pages 82-85), which avoids completely the difficulty of composting this material. You will read dire warnings about woody mulches releasing toxins or using up all the nitrogen in your soil, but both problems are much exaggerated.

Anywhere in the garden

Your soil will benefit from compost applied at any time of year, but to get the best results, spread garden compost (or any other organic material) while the soil is moist, to retain the moisture. In practice, this usually means any time from autumn through to spring. Winter rains may wash some nutrients out of compost applied in autumn, but on the plus side, the compost will help to protect the soil structure. Also, the worms will be able to work on it during any mild periods. Applying a layer at least 5cm (2in) thick will help to suppress weeds, and in any case you won't see much benefit if you spread compost around very thinly. Even though everywhere in the garden will benefit from a mulch of compost or other organic matter, it's worth mentioning that mulching dramatically improves the establishment of newly planted trees and shrubs.

The key ingredient is

Why leafmould Because ordinary garden compost is as variable, in pH and nutrient content, as the ingredients that were used to make it. It also often contains weed seeds. Leafmould is much more predictable and, crucially, can be relied on to be low in nutrients. It also has a nice open, but water-retentive, texture, and shouldn't contain weed seeds. In fact, pure leafmould makes an excellent seed compost. Leafmould won't support seedling growth for more than a few days, so nutrients must be added for a compost with more staying power. One way of doing this is simply to add an organic fertilizer, for example blood, fish and bone, bonemeal, or hoof and horn, to leafmould. Seaweed meal is a useful substitute for those who don't like to use animal products. If you are determined to stick to home-made ingredients, you can include sieved garden compost, which is very variable but generally quite nutrient-rich. Equal parts leafmould and garden compost is one possibility. Even neat garden...

Environmental Potty Training

Simple, low-tech composting systems not only have a positive impact on the Earth's ecosystems, but are proven to be sustainable. Westerners may think that any system not requiring technology is too primitive to be worthy of respect. However, when western culture is nothing more than a distant and fading memory in the collective mind of humanity thousands (hundreds ) of years from now, the humans who will have learned how to survive on this planet in the long term will be those who have learned how to live in harmony with it. That will require much more than intelligence or technology it will require a sensitive understanding of our place as humans in the web of life. That self-realization may be beyond the grasp of our egocentric intellects. Perhaps what is required of us in order to gain such an awareness is a sense of humility, and a renewed respect for that which is simple. Some would argue that a simple system of humanure composting can also be the most advanced system known to...

Such high temperatures as a very good thing

Such temperatures produce finished compost more quickly, and they are high enough to kill weed seeds and disease spores. A compost heap will always be hotter in the centre and, as the bacteria there begin to run out of food and air, turning the heap adds more air and also mixes in the less-composted, outer parts of the heap, setting off the whole process again. A large, frequently turned heap can stay at a high temperature for a surprisingly long time. Don't worry, by the way, that this heat is bad for other compost heap inhabitants. Mesophilic bacteria survive as resistant spores, and mobile animals (beetles, centipedes, worms, and so on) simply move to the outer parts of the heap until things start to cool down.

No turning is required

If you have a bin that allows access to the base of the heap, small quantities of finished compost may be removed from the bottom, but it's far better to leave well alone until the bin is full. Then just remove the undecomposed material and worm-rich layer from the top and tip it straight into a second bin (if you have one), or put it in the original bin after removing the finished compost.

Tells us two important things

First, the transition from fresh material to finished compost is a gradual one, with the end point being entirely a matter of opinion. Second, if you were to rummage around in the leafmold, you would soon turn up a few clearly identifiable twigs. Larger pieces of tougher material (and twigs are both larger and tougher) decompose more slowly than smaller, softer material. Compost is finished when the easily decomposed parts of the original material have disappeared, and the more resistant material has decomposed to the extent that it is no longer recognizable, yet the majority of the original organic matter and nutrients still remain. Nevertheless, deciding when this perfect state has been achieved remains a personal matter, largely affected by how much twiggy stuff you are prepared to tolerate in the finished product. I can't tell you how to decide when your compost is finished, but I can tell you how to get there in a reasonable time.

A spare bit of the vegetable plot

First, it helps to divide your plot into conveniently sized beds and edge them with boards, bricks, or stones. These will help to stop your compost migrating on to the paths. You can now buy recycled plastic boards that slot neatly together and do the same job with no effort at all. Second, cover your chosen bed with a good layer of newspaper or cardboard and water it well. This continuous layer will prevent weeds from becoming a problem. Finally, add layers of kitchen waste and, ideally, grass clippings as they become available.