Soil Enhancement: Composting
Check the temperature of the pile with a compost thermometer or an old kitchen thermometer. A temperature of 110°F to 140°F is desirable. If you have no heat or insufficient heat, add nitrogen in the form of soft green ingredients or organic fertilizer.
If a foul odor emanates from the pile, flip the compost to introduce more air. If you added meat or dairy products, it is best to remove and discard them.
Once a week, or as soon as the center starts to cool down, turn the pile. Move materials from the center of the pile to the outside. (For usable compost in 1 to 3 months, turn it every other week; for finished compost within a month, turn it every couple of days.)
Cold, or Passive Composting
Cold, or passive, composting uses many of the same type of ingredients as hot composting and requires less effort from the gardener, yet the decomposition takes substantially longer—a year or more.
To cold compost, pile organic materials (leaves, grass clippings, soil, manures—but avoid dog, cat, and human waste) as you find or accumulate them. Bury kitchen scraps in the center of the pile to deter insects and animals. Avoid adding meat, dairy, and fat. Also avoid weeds; cold compost piles do not reach high temperatures and do not kill weed seeds. (In fact, weeds may germinate in a cold pile.)
In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, any of these items may be added to a compost pile:
- Coffee grounds and tea bags
- Dry goods (crackers, flour, spices)
- Pasta (cooked or uncooked)
- Shredded paper/newspaper
Source: The Old Farmer’s Almanac
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