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The Ideal Carbon/Nitrogen Balance In Your Compost

Aug 17, 2007
In most gardens, the leaves that are not swept away become compost over time. If you have a bit of time on your hands however, you could start a garden compost pile which ensures compost that is balanced in terms of the nitrogen, carbon, potassium and phosphorus.

When you achieve this, you know that you have compost that's going to be really, really good for your plants and suddenly, your pile becomes more than just a heap of rubbish.

For the efficient functioning of organisms to make good compost, there needs to be a certain proportion of carbon and nitrogen. So what you need to do is to divide the waste into carbon waste and nitrogen waste. Usually, carbon waste is light, dry and brown. Nitrogen waste is wet, heavy and green or brown.

What you need to do to get the best compost is to alternate layers of these two kinds of waste, using 8 of carbon waste and 4 of nitrogen waste. Of course, if you can tell proportions just by looking at a pile, you don't need to do this alternating bit but can put everything in together.

Try not to use commercial additives or limestone or soil. Just make sure the compost is wet all the time and if you can, shred it before starting the composting process to make it go faster. If you do this, your compost should be ready to use in three months time. If you don't shred, it could take quite a while longer.

You should also remember to keep turning the heap. This way oxygen gets in, aerates the heap and hastens the composting process. Yes, this could be hard work, but you could first do it six weeks after you've started your heap and then again four weeks after that. Your heap should go through a heating process a few weeks after you have started it.

If it doesn't there could be something wrong with it. Then comes the cooling phase in three months or more after which it is ready to be used as fertilizer for your plants. If it fails to heat up initially, it is usually because there isn't enough nitrogen in the heap. So if you add some grass clippings to the pile, it should correct the imbalance.

Of course, if there's too much nitrogen, you could get an odor from the pile, very like ammonia or sometimes like rotten eggs. So all you have to do is to add more carbon waste. Turn the heap round a little more often and do not wet the heap if it is too wet.

Instead, wait for it to dry out a bit. Remember, no meat scraps or you'll have rats, mice and other animals scattering your heap all over your garden. If you do have meat scraps, bury them deep down so the smell can't waft up and attract the animals. Make sure you don't empty your cats litter into it either as sometimes, it could contain toxoplasmosis organisms which could attack the human central nervous system. This is dangerous especially for pregnant women.

Avoid sewage sludge as well. It could contain lead or cadmium from industrial waste. These could be dangerous if they get into the food through your garden vegetables and fruits. There is no knowing of their presence unless you check them with sophisticated laboratory testing equipment. So if you don't know for sure, take the safe way out and avoid using it. Sludge can also contain pathogens which can cause infections in humans.

Plants that are diseased can be used in the compost heap but you have to take a few precautions. For around three weeks, the compost should be exposed to 131 F or over and it should be turned over quite often so that the inner parts are exposed to the air outside. Of course, you can save yourself the bother and not use the diseased plants.

When your mulch pile is looking good and on it's way to being ready for use, throw in a few pounds of worms to work thier magic.
About the Author
Warren has put together a very informative site detailing the concise elements of worm farming for personal use and or your own business. Detailing benefits of home composting and many other aspects of worm composting.

More information:
href="http://www.wormscompost.com">Worms Composting
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