It’s no secret that you can’t get a normal harvest without organic fertilization. And even the most unpretentious garden needs such care. However, acquiring manure lately is a real problem.
The only way out is to make compost. This is not only a replacement for manure but also the creation of a “live” soil that provides balanced plant nutrition. However, in order for compost to become the ecological basis of a clean garden, it must be prepared competently and very carefully.
Content and location of the compost heap
Gardeners often throw everything that decays into one pile, mix it several times, sometimes water it and consider the compost ready. In fact, composting is a complex process that takes place under the influence of water, heat, air and living organisms.
The compost heap is a biochemical “reactor” in which vitality boils and boils, transforming raw organic materials into the final product – nutrient-rich humus.
The intensity and completeness of decomposition in it are determined by the variety of incoming organic materials. First of all, it is necessary to combine carbon-rich plant residues with a nitrogen-containing component, for example, with manure. It is advisable to add some pre-made compost with microorganisms present in it. The soil is a very important element of the compost heap. It may be infertile, but it is important that it is clay or loamy. Such land is an excellent starting material for the formation of organomineral complexes.
All decaying organic materials are suitable for the compost heap: branches of shrubs and trees, chips, sawdust, plant remains, old newspapers, weeds with clods of soil and roots, straw, hay, sod, kitchen waste. It is very useful to water the compost heap with four times diluted urine, which is excellent nitrogen fertilizer. Leaves serve as good bedding for her. They are composted neat by heaping and sprinkling with peat or soil. Deciduous compost lacks plant nutrients, but it has a positive effect on the water-holding capacity of the soil and its structure in general.
Coarse and coarse material before laying is crushed with a hatchet (branches of shrubs, trees, etc.). The cut grass is pre-dried in order to avoid the formation of a thick caked layer that can rot, then it is crushed.
What shouldn’t be composted? First of all, feces. They are the source of the spread of worms dangerous to humans. It is necessary to protect the compost from seeded weeds; you cannot use potato tops and vegetable residues affected by fungal diseases.
There is an opinion that a well-rammed, covered with a layer of clay or concreted substrate is prepared for the compost heap. But this is not true, since the earth beneath it should be fertile for earthworms and other organisms participating in the composting process.
When laying another compost heap in this place, the earthworms, remaining in the soil, will again take part in the decomposition of the contents. On the “dead” land, this process will drag on.
Placement of components and readiness of compost
In organic farming, the layers alternate in a certain order – green plants (up to 20 cm), nitrogen-containing substances (bone meal, manure – 5 cm). Then the heap is covered with lime, ash, phosphorite and covered with earth (2 cm). In this sequence, the layers are laid to the desired height of the heap, then it is covered with earth on all sides, and on top (in order to protect it from drying out) – with hay, straw, foliage, grass, etc. As a result, it turns out: 70% of the heap is plant residues, 10% is soil, 20% is manure.
The vital activity of microorganisms is impossible without air and water. The compost should contain as much water as a wrung-out sponge: moisture should be felt by touch, but no water should drip when squeezed into a fist. Moisture will be better absorbed if a small trough-shaped depression is made on the surface of the pile. Air access can be ensured by inserting thick sticks while composting. Then they are taken out, and ventilation and watering will be carried out through the holes obtained. The walls are made with a slight slope so that they gradually taper upward, and in cross-section have the form of a trapezoid. The pile can be folded in even circles in the form of bagels.
In garden plots for compost heaps, holes of various depths are dug, but generally not deeper than half a meter. As the compost is laid, a box of wooden materials is mounted on top. Ultimately, the height is brought to one and a half meters. The necessary conditions for the composting process are provided with the following heap sizes: height – at least one meter, width – at least one and a half meters, the length is determined by the size of the fertilized area. So, for a garden of 100 m, it is three to four meters.
In the finished and sheltered structure, an intense decomposition process begins. The temperature inside rises to almost 60 °, then gradually decreases. Very small piles, slowly forming, do not heat up and composting takes much longer.
When the components lose their natural shape and become indistinguishable against the general background, the compost is ready. It is a homogeneous crumbly dark brown mass with a fresh scent of forest earth. The compost ripens for 1-2 years, therefore, for its constant presence in a ripe form, it is necessary to maintain three compost heaps annually. The first will be in the process of laying, the second – in a state of maturation, the third – ready to use.
Various types of compost can be prepared in the backyard and summer cottages.
It is very simple to prepare it. Cut tops, grass and weeds after weeding, leaves and other non-lignified plant wastes are placed in a container up to 1 m (tank or barrel), which is placed in the sun. Fill with water until the compostable material is completely covered. Soda ash is added (2 tablespoons per 1 bucket of water). The container is closed with a lid or plastic wrap so that the fermentation process takes place better.
In about 10 days (depending on the weather) the composition will be ready. They are fed with fruit, vegetable, berry crops, flowers. It is noticed that caterpillars and larvae of many pests die from a solution diluted in a ratio of 1:10.
When the liquid runs out, add water. All new waste is placed in a container, it is better to replenish its contents often and in small portions. It is advisable to grind plant residues. This way, wet compost will be available throughout the summer. Once or twice during the summer, undissolved stems, grass, etc., accumulated at the bottom, are thrown into the compost heap.
Compost in three picket fences
Composting can be carried out in compact boxes made of a picket fence tied with a rope (width – up to one meter, height – up to one and a half meters). The need for three boxes is due to the fact that the compost in such conditions (without mixing, since the air enters between the pickets) matures in the middle lane in 3 years. In the spring, if you need loose fertile soil for planting, they untie the ropes of the next picket fence, which stood for three years, and get a scatter of compost. Then the picket fence is moved to a new place, during the summer it is filled with garden and household waste, watered several times and left for 3 years. Since there are three bins, the garden is provided with compost every year. As a result of the movement of boxes on the site, a “living” soil is formed step by step in the garden.