Soil is formed of organic matter and weathered rock, water, and air. For healthy plants, you need good ground with organisms such as worms, small animals, microbes, and insects that flourish when the other soil elements are in balance.
You can find organisms like bacteria and fungi, protozoa and nematodes, earthworms, mites, springtails, and other tiny organisms in the soil. These organisms are essential for plant growth as they help convert organic matter and soil minerals into vitamins, nutrients, hormones, and disease-suppressing compounds that plants need to grow.
Organisms’ excretions also help to bind soil particles into the small aggregates that make a soil loose and crumbly. Creating the ideal conditions for these organisms to do their work means providing them with abundant food sources such as carbohydrates in organic matter, water, and oxygen.
What Is Soil Composting, And Why Is It Needed?
Compost is an essential supplement for garden soil. It’s an effective method to add nutrient-rich material to plant soil that boosts plant growth and adds life to depleted soil. It’s also easy to make, accessible, and good for the environment.
For becoming a better gardener, building and maintaining a compost pile is the easiest way. You will produce the best food for your garden and transform leaves, orange rinds, eggshells, and grass clippings into rich composts filled with earthworms and other organisms.
How Does Compost Happen?
In composting, organic matter transforms into compost through microorganisms, enzymes, soil fauna, and fungi. While making compost, your job is to provide the best possible environment for these beneficial organisms to do their work. By doing this, the decomposition process works rapidly and sometimes in just two weeks. If there is no optimum environment, decomposition may take from several months to several years.
The trick is to balance the following four things to making an abundance of compost in a short time:
- Carbon: Carbon-rich ingredients are the energy food for microorganisms. You can easily identify high-carbon plant materials because they are dry, brown, tough, or fibrous. Examples are dry leaves, rotted hay, shredded paper, sawdust, and cornstalks.
- Nitrogen: High-nitrogen materials provide the protein that microorganisms require to grow and work like freshly pulled weeds, over-ripe fruits & vegetables, fresh grass clippings, kitchen scraps, and other moist green matters are the types of nitrogen-rich materials. Other high-protein organic matter includes seaweed, kelp meal, manure, and animal by-products like blood or bone meal.
- Water: Moisture is essential for the composting process. As too much moisture, quantity matters will sink the microorganisms, and too little will dehydrate them. Keep the material in your compost pile moist. If you need to add water, insert the garden hose into the middle of the compost pile in several places, or sprinkle it with water. Using an enclosed container or covering the compost pile with a tarp will make it easier to maintain the right moisture level.
- Oxygen: Microorganisms require a lot of oxygen to work. When you first assemble the pile, there will be plenty of air between the layers of materials. When the microorganisms begin to compost, they will consume oxygen. If you don’t mix or continue to supply the compost pile, they will run out of air and become sluggish.
Start A Compost Pile-
To build a compost pile,
- Start by layering organic materials, decomposable materials — fresh, high-nitrogen wastes, kitchen wastes, manure, crop residues, and weeds. Less decomposable materials — coarser, drier, and high-carbon wastes, like autumn leaves, corncobs, and straw. Microbes break and feed on all these materials into simpler, more stable compounds.
The compost pile needs to be turned in more than once to complete the process.
- Microbes need oxygen and water, so keep the pile moist but not wet.
- As the organic matter breaks down, the microbes generate heat. Make the pile large and sufficient enough to retain heat, but not so large that the oxygen cannot penetrate to the center about four feet on each side is a great size. To promote aeration, mix the harsher elements throughout the pile to ensure plenty of air space. When it cools, stir the heap, with the outer layers going to the inside and vice versa, to include more oxygen and generate a heating cycle.
Different Types of Compost Bins-
Tumbling or Rotating Bins: You grow organic materials until you have enough to fill the bin, then load and rotate it every day. You can have finished compost in four weeks or less if you shred the material before putting it into the container and have plenty of nitrogen.
Plastic Stationary Bins: These bins are more continuous and less for batch composting. Look for a lid that fits perfectly and securely to access finished compost. The size should be about three square feet.
Compost creates rich humus for your lawn and garden. It helps retain soil moisture and adds nutrients to your plants.
Compost is the single most essential supplement you can give your garden.
Recycles Yard and Kitchen Waste:
Composting can divert much of the household waste away from the garbage can. When organic matter hits the landfill, it lacks the air it needs to decompose quickly and creates harmful methane gas, increasing the rate of global warming and climate change.
Adds Beneficial Organisms to the Soil:
Beneficial organisms in compost break down organic materials for plant use, aerate the soil, and ward off plant disease.
Good for the Environment:
Composting gives a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers while applied to garden and lawn soil.
Some Essential Guidelines:
Follow these general tips in working your soil:
- For long-term benefit, it’s better to feed the soil than the plant.
- Feed the Soil every season and every time you plant, using organic matter, like compost, chopped leaves, and rotted manure.
- Don’t dig when soil is too dry or wet as it damages the soil. Great soil is when a fistful of it crumbles easily.
- Don’t walk on your compost piles as stepping on soil compacts it, preventing water, air, and nutrients from reaching plants.
- Avoid over tilling as excessive digging or rototilling damage the soil’s structure, leaving it rock hard or powdery.
Composting is an effective way to recycle yard and kitchen waste and richen degraded soil into one of the finest soil supplements you can find. You will save waste from landfills, and composted materials feed the soil with many beneficial microorganisms. Compost also helps your soil drainage and reduces plant diseases.