Carbon comes from what people call brown waste. Leaves and shredded paper contain a lot of carbon, and they are commonly used in compost bins. One of the most common mistakes that the beginning composter makes is to focus only on what is available in the home. In the spring and summer, we have plenty of vegetable and fruit scraps and very few fallen leaves. However, when you neglect to put carbon into the bin, it gets quite mucky and smelly from the wet, nitrogen-rich green material. The microbes in the pile use carbon for energy. You want energetic, hard-working microbes in your compost bin! Remember your carbon, and you’re cooking.
Cooking is what compost does when it contains everything that it needs. Bacteria do their work in the bin, breaking down yard and food scraps into useful materials for plants. In the process, they release heat through microbial activity. This heat makes the compost a poor place for flies and weeds to thrive, and it’s a good sign that your compost is functioning as it should. Hotter bins also make finished compost more quickly. After the pile has started to cool, it is important to turn or aerate the compost with a tool that punches holes down into the compost pile. This adds oxygen to the compost bin.
Using Compost In the Garden
When your compost is ready, you’ll be eager to move it into your garden. You will find that you have less compost than you had garden waste. As the microbes synthesize garden waste, the chunks become smaller and the humus becomes dense. This means that you may need to choose the best place to put your compost: there may not be enough for the entire garden.
The vegetable garden is a logical place to put your finished compost. The nutritional value of our food is influenced by what is in the soil, and the better the soil, the more vigorous, healthy, and nutritious our food.
Use compost to prepare garden beds in the spring or before you put in a winter garden. Dig compost into the top layer of garden soil. After you have planted, you may want to use compost or compost tea as fertilizer and top-dress the plants with a thin layer of compost. For new and delicate plants, add a bit of compost around the plant to side-dress it with a good helping of nutrients and microorganisms.
In the fall, you can also use compost as part of a mulching system. Place the compost on the soil and add a cover crop like fava beans or winter rye. The plants and the compost together will protect and enrich that soil so that it will be even better after a long winter of rain and snow.
It seems odd that we buy soil and throw away food waste, paper, and leaves. Save and savor your garden and home waste by turning it into compost. This compost will nurture both new and established plants in your garden. When you raise healthy plants, you reduce your use of pesticides. Healthy plants in a diverse garden ecosystem are .plants that are more resistant to diseases
Compost also boosts the health of your soil, and this supports a diverse garden ecosystem. When bugs and birds are welcome parts of the garden, these predators eat many other bugs that eat your plants. Compost is an essential part of an organic gardening system. Who knew that such great benefit could be had from the scraps of yesterday’s dinner?