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Composting 101

Compost is organic matter that has been discarded and decomposed and used again as soil conditioner or fertilizer. It is commonly used in organic farming. Compost can consist of animal, vegetable or human waste. The raw materials then turn into a nutrient rich substance for organic sustainability. Composting does not have to be complicated. Formulas and techniques are not necessary when growing your garden. When making a quality compost, start simple and follow basic guidelines.

The Benefits of Composting

Compost adds nutrients and micronutrients to the soil and increases growth in plants and vegetables. The nutrients are released at a specific rate, which is different for every plant, depending on the temperature and available moisture.

The texture and structure is improved by the compost binding the soil. Healthy soil organically sustains your plants, providing better moisture, oxygen for root growth and improved drainage. Soil capacity can increase to up to 200 percent of its dry weight in water.

Earthworms and insects are naturally drawn to composting. These are nature’s soil builder and they help increase plant growth and revitalize soil. PH levels are also balanced and it makes plants more resilient to withstand other ph levels.

Composting Materials

One tip for achieving maximum composting results is to have your compost consist of one part animal matter, such as manure, and two parts vegetable matter. The materials you’ve chosen must be biodegradable and contain nutrients that are available and usable to microorganisms. Examples of acceptable organic vegetable matter include pond algae, wood ashes, coffee grinds, feathers, organic kitchen garbage, dry dog food -- which activates nitrogen --, eggshells, flowers, grass clippings, leaves, weeds, and kelp.

Activating the Compost

An activator in an organic compost, speeds up the process by providing a nitrogen-protein source to feed the microorganisms in your garden. Adding an activator is crucial to the success of your compost. Examples of organic activators are compost tea, and well-rotted, dried manure. For those who are vegetarians or those who cannot stand the smell of manure, protein meal can be substituted as an activator.

Another example of an activator for compost is EM 1. EM 1 is an organic soil amendment that provides a broad spectrum of beneficial microorganisms, enzymes, vitamins, and various organic acids. It is best used in combination with garden and lawn fertilizers. The organic matter will support the development of other components that are crucial to healthy soil, such as insects and earthworms.

Speeding up decomposition is necessary to achieve ideal composting benefits. The activators listed above with break down the raw materials into nutrient-rich organic matter. To speed up the process you can, add moisture as you build the pile, wet down the compost and aerate it frequently by turning and mixing up the materials.

For more information on soil conditioners, like EM 1, and their impact on your garden, visit Teraganix’s website. Teraganix provides industry leading solutions for your home and garden. They are an exclusive distributor in the US & Canada for Dr. Higas EM-1 Effective Microorganisms, EM Bokashi, Pro EM-1 Probiotics, & EM Ceramics.