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Backyard Composting. Sandra M. Frost BHB Area Educator – Crops. Advantages . Reduces fertilizer use Alters soil pH Improves soil structure. Factors . Location Size Water Microorganisms Air. Location. Shade Out of wind Near a source of water Out of sight Near garden.

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backyard composting

Backyard Composting

Sandra M. Frost

BHB Area Educator – Crops

advantages
Advantages
  • Reduces fertilizer use
  • Alters soil pH
  • Improves soil structure
factors
Factors
  • Location
  • Size
  • Water
  • Microorganisms
  • Air
location
Location
  • Shade
  • Out of wind
  • Near a source of water
  • Out of sight
  • Near garden
tips for success
Tips for Success
  • Location out of wind and sun
  • Ideal size = 1 cubic yard
  • Water = wrung-out sponge
  • Soil biota with soil
  • Air – turn pile
soil biota
Soil Biota
  • Bacteria – smallest & most numerous
    • Purple bacteria
    • Actinomycetes
  • Fungi – most biomass, dominant
    • Molds, mildew, rust, smut, yeasts
  • Collembolans
  • Millipedes
  • Worms
feeding a compost pile
Feeding a Compost Pile
  • Microorganisms need food !
  • Carbon / Nitrogenratio 25/1
dynamics
Dynamics
  • Early – bacteria and fungi
  • Mid – high heat kills fungi
  • Late – Fungi work
    • Cellulose, lignin, bacterial bodies
feeding a compost pile1
Feeding a Compost Pile
  • Yes– garden debris, kitchen wastes, shredded paper, manures, leaves, hay, straw, grass clippings, sod, sawdust.
  • No– bones, meat scraps, fats, dog and cat feces, human feces, polyester materials, plastics, diseased plants, toxic stuff.
possible problems
Possible Problems
  • Too wet
  • Too dry
  • Compost not working
  • Offensive odor
  • Leaves matted
  • Flies
cold weather composting
Cold-weather Composting
  • Takes longer
  • Cover pile with a sheet of black plastic
  • Add more nitrogen-rich materials
  • Add 1 foot higher / wider for insulation
worms
Worms
  • Tunneling = aeration & structure
  • Castings = nutrients
  • 1 lb / 1 lb garbage / 1 lb compost / day
  • Reduce time for composting to occur
  • Must turn pile weekly to moderate heat
  • Indoors – worm box (Red Worms)
humus
Humus
  • Colloidal soil organic matter
  • Highly charged with large surface area
  • Dynamic role in soil
    • buffers pH, chelates cations (+ ions), pH
  • Over time it releases N and S to soil
compost uses
Compost uses
  • Mix in garden beds
  • Prepare soil for new lawns
  • Add to flower pots
  • Use as a mulch
  • Give it away
structures
Structures
  • Not necessary
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