How to Make an Organic Garden
How to Make an Organic Garden
With Compost …
To compost -or, to make a compost pile, is to turn once living things into a soil conditioner, weed preventer, fertilizer. It’s taking those things, putting them together in a ‘compost pile’, managing the process so they decompose and leave you with a great result. Home compost is a key, critical component to your organic garden. It is easy enough for anyone to for their home garden, even with limited space.
How it works
By taking specific brown and green material and mixing them together and allowing the millions of microbes in the soil to break down the material results in a fertilizer rich in nutrients that the plants need to thrive.
You don’t need a lot to make it work. You do need a few things to make it a little neater and easier to manage. You can buy a fancy bin or start with something as simple as a roll of chicken wire (or hardware cloth) that you form into a circle and fill with your material. The browns and the greens need to be in balance. The brown material is stuff that has already begun to decay -like straw and shredded leaves. The browns are a good base layer to put down. The ratio of browns to greens should be 3:1. Fall is a good time to start making compost with the abundance of brown leaves. It is important to have adequate air circulation which is why a trash can is not suitable. If there is no air it will start to smell.If there is plenty of air circulation there is no smell and it will not attract animals -which is one of the concerns people have about compost piles.
Next the green ingredients -they are things that are fresher, not dried, like grass clippings, which are excellent. Kitchen / food scraps are another green component, as are banana peel, avocado peel, tea bag, cucumber peelings and egg shell. Egg shells are excellent because they are high in calcium. Also include garden plants that are finished, house plants, flowers and coffee grounds. Manure is great -although it is brown. If from an herbivore it is good -like chickens, horses, and cows. They are considered green because of the high nitrogen content.
The pile must be big enough to begin decomposing. It should be about three (3) feet wide and three (3) feet high and three (3) feet deep. That will provide the ‘critical mass’ -the pressure that will begin the decomposing process. If you are a very enthusiastic compost maker, and you turn it every week, you will have a finished product in about two (2) months. Also, the composting process requires some moisture -not soaking wet, but damp all the time.
The area in the center will begin to get hot. You may see steam rise from it when you dig into it. That stuff is becoming finished and needs to be moved to the outside. Move the other stuff that hasn’t cooked yet to the inside. That is what is meant by ‘turning.’ If you are the ‘Let compost happen’ sort and never turn it -it will take about six (6) months.
So, the process is to build it up in layers, turn it once a week and add more layers. Add water and turn it over. You can do it all at once if you have enough ingredients or, continue to add layers until it is full.
The finished product can be used to lay a 1/2″ layer on top the garden soil. The compost heap may be used to mix into the soil when transplanting spring plants. Just mix in a couple of handfuls into each hole. It is a most excellent fertilizer that your tomato plants will love.
The use of compost rather than chemical fertilizers to nourish your plants is what enables you to label your garden as organic. The plants in the forest thrive naturally due to the annual / continual composting of the leaves that drop, along with all the other natural matter that lies on the forest floor. To Make an Organic Garden is to ditch the chemical fertilizers. To do so is to go back to growing the way nature intended -which is more healthy for you, the eater, and more sustainable for the planet.
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Filed under: How-to Gardening
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