4 steps to TOP COM­POST

Gardening Australia - - PRACTICAL -

1 GET YOUR BLEND RIGHT

Com­post piles need a bal­ance of high ni­tro­gen (greens) and high car­bon (brown) ma­te­ri­als to break down ef­fi­ciently. Greens in­clude kitchen scraps, fresh lawn clip­pings, weeds, gar­den trim­mings, cof­fee grounds, tea leaves and cow, sheep, horse, goat or poul­try ma­nure (never add dog or cat drop­pings). Brown ma­te­ri­als in­clude straw, dry leaves, dry lawn clip­pings, wood chips, wood shav­ings and shred­ded card­board or pa­per. Gen­er­ally, a brown to green ra­tio of 4:1 (by vol­ume) is rec­om­mended. To main­tain a good bal­ance, add some browns ev­ery time you add your greens.

2 CHOP UP MA­TE­RI­ALS

Chop­ping or chip­ping ma­te­ri­als into small pieces in­creases their sur­face area, so it’s eas­ier for mi­crobes to break them down.

3 AER­ATE YOUR PILE

The mi­crobes that break down or­ganic mat­ter need air. When your heap starts to slump, turn over the pile with a gar­den fork to aer­ate it. You can also in­sert a long piece of PVC pipe with holes drilled in the side to help draw air deep into the pile.

4 MAN­AGE MOIS­TURE

Mi­crobes need mois­ture, too, but not too much. To test whether your com­post needs ex­tra wa­ter, squeeze a hand­ful. It should feel just moist not drip­ping wet. Cov­er­ing the pile with card­board or a hes­sian sack will help hold mois­ture in, too. If you have days of heavy rain, it’s worth cov­er­ing with a tarp to stop it get­ting too wet. A com­post pile with a lot of green ma­te­rial may also be too wet. If that’s the case, mix through some ad­di­tional brown ma­te­ri­als to re­gain bal­ance.

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