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Assunto: The Basics Of Composting
País: USA
Data: 9/2009
Enviado por: Rodrigo Imbelloni
Curiosidade (texto):
What Is Compost? Compost is simply decomposed organic material. The organic material can be plant material or animal matter. While composting may seem mysterious or complicated, its really a very simple and natural process that continuously occurs in nature, often without any assistance from mankind. If youve ever walked in the woods, youve experienced compost in its most natural setting. Both living plants and annual plants that die at the end of the season are consumed by animals of all sizes, from larger mammals, birds, and rodents to worms, insects, and microscopic organisms. The result of this natural cycle is compost, a combination of digested and undigested food that is left on the forest floor to create rich, usually soft, sweet-smelling soil. Backyard composting is the intentional and managed decomposition of organic materials for the production of compost, that magical soil enhancer that is fundamental to good gardening. Anyone can effectively manage the composting process. In fact, if you have organic matter, its virtually impossible to prevent decomposition. The trick is to maximize the process of decomposition, while avoiding the unpleasant effects of the natural process of decaying matter. Compost is good; sloppy garbage heaps and rotting food are bad. Why Is Compost So Good? Compost is good for two very compelling reasons. Its great for the garden, and its environmentally responsible. Garden Benefits Compost is great for the garden because it improves the soil, which in turn supports healthier and more productive plants. Compost provides virtually all of the essential nutrients for healthy plant growth, and it almost always releases those nutrients over time to give plants a slow, steady, consistent intake of the elements essential for growth. Compost also improves the soils structure, making it easier for soil to hold and use the right amount of moisture and air. Compost will improve the texture of both clay and sandy soil; indeed, compost is the best additive to make either clay or sandy soil into rich, moisture holding, loamy soil. And, as an added benefit, compost improves plant vigor and provides for improved immunology from diseases. Environmental Benefits The most obvious environmental benefit is that composting can significantly reduce the amount of solid waste that would otherwise find its way into the trash collection and dumping cycle. Clearly, the more we compost, the less we contribute to the cost of trash removal and the volume of solid materials in landfills. Using compost to feed your lawn and garden will also reduce your dependency on chemical fertilizers. So, youll save money and reduce if not eliminate - the potential of chemical pollution to your little piece of the environment. Using compost instead of chemical fertilizers will ensure that your lawn and garden thrive in soil that is alive and healthy. Whats The Best Way to Make Compost? To make compost, youll need to dedicate some outdoor space to the process. Ideally, the location of your compost production should be convenient to the garden, as well as close to the source of the raw materials (kitchen scraps, lawn clippings, etc.), without being an unappealing eyesore. Finding a good spot for your compost pile might be a little bit easier if you have a lot of land; but, even suburbanites and city dwellers can effectively maintain a compost pile with a little bit of creativity and effort. And, the benefits both to the garden and the environment far exceed the effort! Entire books have been written on the subject of composting. In fact, a recent search on indicates that there are no fewer than 8,900 books that discuss the subject. But, dont become overwhelmed. The process is fairly simple; and, as Ive said, the rewards are wonderful. Open Bins or Containers There are two basic kinds of compost piles: open bins and enclosed containers. Open bins can be constructed with wood, chicken wire, or recycled plastic. Of course, municipal large scale composting is often conducted in large open piles without the use of any bins at all. These compost heaps are often turned by bulldozers or other pieces of heavy equipment, so container walls are not practical. Enclosed containers for composting usually consist of one of two designs: upright box-like containers, and rotating drums. Advantages of Open Bin Composting Open bins easily collect rain water Open bins are very convenient for adding materials Disadvantages of Open Bin Composting Open bins can attract rodents, flies, bees, and bears Open bins can become too wet, if not covered Open bins may be more difficult to mix (more on that later) Open bins may be an eyesore to your neighbors Advantages of Compost Containers Compost containers will rarely attract pests Upright containers may be more aesthetically appealing Rotating drums are usually easier to mix or turn Rotating drums are easy to unload Rotating drums usually have screening options Disadvantages of Compost Containers Enclosed containers usually require you to add water Upright containers may be very difficult to mix or turn Two Chambers are Always Better than One Whether you choose to use an open bin or a compost container, two chambers are always better than one. In fact, if you are really serious about composting, having two chambers is a necessity. Because the composting process takes at least several weeks under the best conditions, you cannot add additional materials to the heap without resetting the clock to day one (Mantis Makes a pretty good two chamber compost tumbler). To create an ideal batch of fully composted material, your mix needs to cook for at least several weeks; if you add additional material, youll have a mix of fully decomposed material, partially decomposed material, and fresh materials. Its simply much easier, and much more desirable to use a consistent mixture of fully decomposed compost for gardening purposes. After all, you wouldnt want to buy a bag of potting soil that contained a rotting tomato in it! Tools Youll Need After youve built or bought a compost bin or container, there are only a few tools that youll need to make compost. If youre already a gardener, you probably already have the tools that you need. Pitch fork, or turning fork The best hand tool for mixing and turning a working compost pile. The tines of the fork will penetrate layers of leaves and grass clippings, and make the mixing process much easier than using a shovel. Shovel The best tool for removing finished compost from a bin or heap, and for tossing compost onto the garden. Garden Cart the best tool for moving compost from the heap to the garden. Garden carts can also be very useful in catching compost from a rotating drum composter. The Mantis Loadumper cart is especially practical for moving compost; its cleverly balanced, and has big, easy rolling wheels. And, its designed to be very easy to dump. Compost Thermometer not essential, but you might be interested in checking the temperature of the core. A properly established mix will heat up to 160 degrees F., whether you have a compost thermometer or not. Having one just might be interesting. Key Ingredients for Great Compost One of the great aspects of composting is that the key ingredients are often things that youd be tempted to throw away. So, with just a little effort, you can contribute less to the trash stream (good for the environment) and make great compost (good for your garden). Compost is created when you provide the right mixture of key ingredients for the millions of microorganisms that do the dirty work. These microorganisms will eat, multiply, and convert raw materials to compost as long as the environment is right. The environment doesnt have to be absolutely perfect, so you dont need to be a microbiologist or chemist to have successful compost. You need to provide: food, water, and air. The water and air are easy. The food is a little more complex. Food for your little micro friends consists of two classes of materials, simply referred to as Greens and Browns. Green materials are high in nitrogen, while brown materials are high in carbon. The green materials provide protein for the micro bugs, while the brown materials provide energy.