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Gardening

Composting – Gardening techniques – Composting

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Everyone who has a garden, even a small one, knows very well how much green “waste” it produces, especially if it is accompanied by a small garden. And they also know how much of the time they would dedicate to caring for the crops, should be dedicated instead to giving it to the ecological islands, or to the buckets, sacks and sacks of cut grass, branches, leaves and perhaps even overripe vegetables or fruits. , or uprooted. to accommodate other crops Composting allows us to use these residues, which become raw material, to produce a good quantity of excellent humid soil; In this way, the time we dedicate to “cleaning” our garden will be able to reward us, also offering us a good compost for our garden and our garden. In fact, the correct storage and treatment of branches, leaves, grass, food scraps, fruit and vegetable peels, allows bacteria, microorganisms and small insects to eat them, develop and decompose the organic substances present in our waste; After a few months, the organic matter treated in this way will turn into a mass of microorganisms and nutrients, called compost, similar to the humus that we can find in the undergrowth: a soft, well-aerated and mineral-rich soil, excellent for our crops.
composting

composting variants First of all, you need to choose the type of composter that best suits our purposes; Hence the case of evaluating both the time we usually dedicate to the greenery of our home, and the amount of waste that our garden usually produces.

The heap: if our garden is large we will have the possibility of constituting a heap for composting, or a small area, possibly rectangular, delimited by a fine mesh or a trellis. It is advisable to cover the compost pile with sheets of non-woven fabric, or jute, to avoid the direct incidence of solar rays, and also to limit the water supply due to the rains. Composter: it is a hood, often made of plastic, provided with an upper opening, for the insertion of the material to be composted, and with a side opening, or with a gate, to collect the mature compost or to control the progress of composting. Some types of composter They are distributed by the town councils, which also guarantee, to those who use them, a discount on the waste disposal fee Trash cans: if we want to compost the material little, or if we want to compost in a closed space, we can use bins, or boxes, properly perforated, to allow better ventilation, and provided with a lid, in any case, it is good that the composting containers have no bottom, or with the bottom made up of a grid, and that they are placed in contact with the ground. : in this way the earthworms and other insects will migrate from the soil of our garden to the compost, accelerating their decomposition. They must also be provided with a lid so that the rain does not alter the contents. To speed up decomposition, it is also better to mulch the material you want to compost, so that it is easier for bacteria and insects to digest.

composter “Hot” means the composting of a large quantity of waste material, at least one cubic meter, which, when decomposed, produces heat; In the center of the mass of organic matter, the temperature can reach 60 C.

Position: to better compost large amounts of material we must follow some precautions, so as not to run the risk that our composter is filled with rotten and smelly material. To prevent our compost from getting too hot or dry, it is advisable to place the composter in a semi-shaded place, possibly in an area covered by the branches of a deciduous plant: in this way we will also avoid the possibility that the compost gets too cold in winter. Aeration: for bacteria and microorganisms to spread in our waste, it is good that the presence of oxygen is high, otherwise there would be too many anaerobic bacteria, typical of decomposition, that produce bad odor and toxic compounds in our compost; For this, it is advisable that the first layer of the heap, or the bottom of the container, is made up of branches and leaves cut into large pieces so that the compost is lifted from the ground. It is also a good idea to mix wetter waste, such as grass, with other drier waste, so that the composter material does not compact too quickly, preventing the air from circulating freely to improve aeration and mixing of the material. inserted in the composter it is advisable to intervene periodically, at least 2-3 times in the first two months, moving and turning the compost mass with a fork; However, if we notice fast composting, at least in the first few weeks, it is better to make aeration holes in the compost with a stick. Humidity: the adequate degree of humidity is necessary for the correct proliferation of bacteria in the compost; Therefore, it is advisable to ensure a good presence of water, watering the material introduced into the composter, or ensuring a good amount of wet material, such as grass or residues from cleaning fruits and vegetables. In a dry compost and in a compost soaked in water, the bacteria die and our compost fails, to ensure the correct degree of humidity of the compost, simply hold a handful of compost material in your hand, this should only moisten the palm of our hand; if it drips we will hurry to introduce dry material into the composter, for example, sawdust if on the contrary, it seems lacking in moisture, water it or introduce moistened strips of paper Carbon/nitrogen ratio: to ensure good decomposition remember that bacteria proliferate better in a substrate very rich in carbon, present in wood, straw, paper; however, the correct nitrogen content is necessary, present for example in kitchen waste, which must be present in a much lower quantity than carbon. The best way to ensure you maintain the correct carbon/nitrogen ratio is to be careful to mix as much waste materials as possible, avoiding the preponderance of one over the other Enzymes: to ensure that decomposition occurs in the best possible way as well we can add enzymes, available in the market, to the composter, which accelerate the maturation of the compost improving its “digestion” to the part of the bacteria and eliminating unpleasant odors.

If we have little space, but we want to try our luck in composting, we can also do it on a balcony or in the cellar, in small containers, cold composting will be carried out, for which it is advisable to follow all the precautions of the hot, remembering to have a lot watch out. humidity, but also not to introduce weeds or seeds of diseased plants, to avoid the spread of diseases and seeds with our compost.

We can also benefit from the precious help of earthworms: simply place them in a well-ventilated and covered container, with moistened sheets of paper, kitchen scraps and a little earth; Place the container in a shady place and they will help us to decompose the organic matter, generating excellent humus for our pots.

Materials that can be inserted into a composter.

– Branches and leaves, suitably crushed – Grass, possibly dry, to prevent the material from being too compacted in the composter – Eggshells, possibly chopped, so that they decompose more easily – Cooked food remains; add them in small amounts, to avoid attracting mice or flies. To prevent the seeds from remaining alive in the compost, insert them in the center of the mass to be composted, so that they reach the highest temperatures. – Ground coffee – Paper, possibly not printed – Wood ash, in small quantities – Pine needles, reminding us that they lower the pH of the compost Material not to be placed in the composter Any type of plastic material – Coal ash – Tetrapak containers. – Printed paper, although sometimes a newspaper can be useful – Glass – Ceramics – Aluminum and metals in general – Bones; time is taken to break down too long – Synthetic or otherwise dyed fabrics.

After 6-9 months, our compost is mature and can be used by removing it from the side of the container, which we will continue to fill, remembering to remove the new material from time to time.

The soil that we are going to get fertile and smells like undergrowth (if something smells bad in the compost!), We can use it as compost for garden plants, for pots, in the holes of the new plants to be planted. If we are in a hurry we can start using the compost while it is still fresh, after 2-3 months, although its quality is certainly lower than that of mature compost. Before using the compost for this purpose, we prefer to sift it well, with a fairly large mesh, to avoid distributing pieces of wood or pieces of compost not yet perfectly decomposed for our garden.

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