What Kind of Composting is Best for Me?

gwtamaraJanuary 1, 2013

Composting can be the best thing you can do for your garden. The advantages of feeding the microbial soil life with a steady supply of organic materials has benefits that chemical fertilizers can not match.

The options available to you are many. Hot compost, cold compost, leaf mold, Interbay Mulch. Many roads to the same end result, which is well-rotted, rich organic material to enhance and feed the soil.

You can also use the finished, composted material to brew "teas" to water the plants with. Recent research has been showing this to be a very powerful tool to naturally protect your plants from a wide variety of diseases and blights.

A few of the major composting methods that are employed by home gardeners are:

Cold Compost Pile: A pile which is made up of greens and browns and then left alone to rot in place for several months to several years.

Hot or Active Compost Pile: A pile which is made up of greens and browns and then turned and aerated often to incorporate air, water, and/or fresh ingredients. Require more effort but often results in finished compost within a several weeks to a few months.

Sheet Composting or "Lasagna" Bed: Also known as Interbay Mulch. A specific sort of compost pile in which green and brown materials are built up in lasagna style layers over a present or future garden bed site.

Pit or Trench Composting: A method where you bury organic material directly in the ground, sometimes along side of plantings, in a shallow trench.

Many folks are intimidated and think composting is a difficult process. It is not, Nature has been doing it for quite some time. But you do have to follow some basics to be successful.

The *best* way to go about it depends on many factors. If you ask yourself some questions about your specific needs it can help you to focus and determine what would be most successful for your specific situation. The amount and diversity of organic material you have available to compost determines your needs somewhat, as well as the quality of the finished product.

Once you have a clear picture of your specific needs and the level of involvement you wish to take in the process our 'Noted Experts' on the Soil Forum will be more able to help you fine tune your technique to take full advantage of your supply of 'Garden Gold'.

The questions below can help you to clarify what your needs and requirements are. This is not a test so don't be intimidated. Just use the questions to focus your attention on what will work best for you.

What is your zone? -- _______ City, Suburb or Rural? -- _______ How large is your garden? -- _______ Sq. ft.

Do you grow vegetables? -- _______ Do you have lawn area? -- _______ Do you want to recycle the yard and kitchen waste? -- _______ Do you wish to make as much compost as possible? -- _______ How much space do you have/wish to dedicate to your compost pile? ? ft. x ? ft. -- _______ Do you need a bin, or do you have plans for beds...

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