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Thursday, August 21, 2008

What is composting?

What do you need to make compost?
• Decomposers – Your composting work crew. These are the microbes (mainly bacteria and fungi) that do all the work for you.

• Food for the decomposers The organic materials to be composted

• The right amount of air, water, and warmth to keep the work crew happy

Where do the decomposers come from?
• If you build it, they will come…
What is the best food for your decomposers?
All organic materials will compost, but not all should be added to a backyard compost pile
Organic wastes that should be composted include:
Garden trimmings
Grass clippings
• Leaves
• Also
Used potting soil

Materials to avoid…
• Avoid organic materials that could cause problems during or after composting
• Oil, fat, grease, meat, fish or dairy products, unwashed egg shells (tend to attract pests, vermin)
• Hard to kill weeds (bindweed, quackgrass) and weeds that have gone to seed (could infest garden area when compost is used).

• Is it necessary to shred leaves, twigs, branches and other coarse materials before putting them in the compost pile?

• Small particles will decompose faster than large ones because:
- As particles are made smaller, more surface area is exposed to the microbes that do the work of decay.
- Microbes often have a hard time getting at the food trapped inside woody materials. If these are broken apart for them it will speed up the decomposition process.
Benefits of compost Plant nutrients
Compost is not a fertilizer, but does contain plant nutrients
• Nitrogen and phosphorus are mostly in organic forms
– Released slowly to plants
– Not readily leached from the topsoil
• Compost contains many trace nutrients that are essential for plant growth

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