Compost is like a superfood supplement for any soil; augment it with the required nutrients and yield healthy vegetables in your garden. Ready-to-use composts are available in markets, but you can make it at home too with peels, food waste, or leftovers. We have discussed before how much we love composting. We’ve even shown you how to compost. Homemade compost is chemical-free and organically boosts the harvest of landscapes and gardens. We are going to give you tips on how to use your compost in your vegetable garden.
Golden Composting Ratios
Golden composting ratios will enable gardeners to create a healthy pile of homemade compost. The essential components of composting are brown matter, green matter, and water. It is simple and easy.
- Brown Matter: Any dead twigs, leaves, or rotten waste is brown matter.
- Green Matter: Grass clippings and kitchen scraps are green matter.
- Water: It is the most important part of composting.
Golden Ratio of Compost for Your Vegetable Garden
Layer brown and green matter in equal parts and add sufficient water to wet the layers. Layering will allow nitrogen and carbon to decompose the organic matter, and water will rev the process – making it nutrient-rich compost.
For moist climatic conditions, open piles get enough water from the air, rainwater, or snow, so there is no need to add extra water. However, if making compost in dry weather conditions or in the compost bin, it is essential to water the compost layers after one day.
What Can You Use For Your Vegetable Garden Compost?
Here are a few essentials for a great compost:
- Peels of vegetables and fruits
- Rotten food
- Tea bags
- Coffee grounds
- Yard trimmings
- Fireplace ashes
- Dryer and vacuum lint
Things that are sure to be garden killers and to avoid adding to your compost:
- Fish or meat bones
- Dairy products
- Butter, fats, or grease
- Pet waste (dogs, cats)
- Pesticide-treated yard clippings and trimmings
Pesticide-treated wastes and yard clippings will contaminate the compost and kill the good bacteria required for decomposing. So, avoid using such things while making your own compost. Think- do I want to eat these things? No? Then don’t allow them to enter into the growth of your vegetables in your garden.
When Should You Compost the Soil?
After making compost, the next crucial step is to evaluate composting timing in the garden, raised beds, or pots. Organic compost is harmless for plantations, and you can use them frequently throughout the year. For first-time gardeners, it is essential to add compost layers at different intervals of sowing seeds or baby plants and multiple times for the wholesome reaping of crops. We started our EarthEasy Natural Cedar Raised Garden Beds with our Compost and feel great about the harvest it has reaped this season.
Also, composting time depends upon the type of plantations for vegetable gardens, the perfect composting time is flowering time. During the florescent phase, plants require a lot of energy, nutrients, and resources to develop their fruits, and a good dose of nutrients can support them keep up and cultivating nutritious crops.
How to Compost in Your Garden
At the start of the growing season, adding compost to the soil is known as amending. In this method, gardeners plow and mix compost in the topsoil layer to augment it with essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon dioxide for potent plant growth. Amendation also boosts the aeration of the soil, preventing it from erosion and hardening. Adding layers of compost at this phase is convenient and can be done with the rake, shovel, or even with hands.
Composting in the middle of the growing phase is called side dressing. It is a tricky process that needs caution, and gardeners need to place compost around the top layer of soil without shoveling as plants are already in a growing phase. Adding compost two-three inches away from the plant stems and assembling a ring will augment soil sufficiently without harming the stems and roots. This is the first year we have done this as our compost bin was overflowing. We have been very careful with this process and so far, have had success with the side dressing.
Dos & Don’ts of Composting
Some of this is repetitive, but here is an easy list of the Dos and Don’ts of composting. If you follow these steps as a guide, you are sure to be successful in your compost endeavors and using your compost in your garden.
- Mix a jumble of vegetable wastes and kitchen leftovers with yard clippings, grass clippings, and leaves. The mix will prevent creating a hard solid layer as long straws can evolve into a compact structure that may hinder the airflow through the compost pile.
- Water the compost fluff moderately and keep it damp, but never overwater it.
- If making compost with large amounts of food wastes, bury them deep as it will attract rodents.
- Cut every waste material into small pieces before adding it to the compost pile so all things will decompose equally.
- Be patient while making homemade compost. The waste material will take a few months to decompose completely.
- Assemble the compost piles in six-eight inches layers and keep an inch soil layer in between these layers.
- After every two weeks, turn the compost with a shovel or pitchfork. The process will add more oxygen and keep the pile aerated.
- Never use dairy products, meat, fish bones, oil, butter, fats, or baked items in the compost pile. Such food wastes do not decompose readily and attract wild animals.
- Do not use pesticide-treated plant twigs and leaves as they will cause contamination.
- Avoid using weed wastes, as weeds grow on the compost pile and suck up all the nutrients.
- Don’t use pet wastes or kitty litter. Although these scraps will ultimately decompose into compost, but also carry germs, viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
- Don’t use coated or glossy papers. Also, sidestep any non-biodegradable products as these will only delay the decomposition time.
- Don’t mix the concept of fertilizers with compost. Compost is a soil supplement. However, fertilizers are essential for soil consistency, health, and chemical and biological properties. Also, nutrients from compost release very slowly as compared to fertilizers.
Troubleshooting for Compost Pile Problems
Problem 1: The compost pile is soggy and warm from the center.
-Possible Reasons: Maybe the compost pile is small in size, or the weather is cold.
-Solution: Use a compost bin and build a pile of 3 ft. in height and width. Always cover the compost pile with a tarp.
Problem 2: The compost smells like rancid fats, oil, vinegar, or rotten eggs.
-Possible Reasons: The compost pile is very damp or too compacted. Also, there is not enough supply of oxygen.
-Solution: Turn the compost pile to aerate it. Add granulated dry materials, such as leaves to soak up extra dampness.
Problem 3: The compost piles attract various slugs, insects, centipedes, etc.
-Possible Reasons: composting and decomposition
-Solution: Insects are essential for the decomposition process and this isn’t really a problem. They help in the composting process. But if their numbers are increasing and annoying, you can use traps or barriers around the compost bin.
We know everyone, every climate, and every garden is different and so their composting choices and methods will vary. Fortunately, no matter which route you choose, composting at home is extremely easy and eco-friendly. Plus, it is a nutritious treat for your plants. With some patience and kitchen scraps, you will have a wholesome, happy, and greener vegetable garden. We wish you the best of luck in your vegetable garden. Happy composting, and happy gardening!
We’d like to thank our friends over at Eartheasy for our Natural Cedar Raised Garden Beds this year. Eartheasy is a family business committed to bringing you practical products and information for sustainable living. Eartheasy shares what they have learned from nearly 40 years of living close to the land. We love Eartheasy and are genuinely proud to be a partner with them.
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