What is "compost"?
Compost is the term applied to organic matter - such as leaves, weeds, grass clippings, and the like - which has been sufficiently decayed to form a light, crumbly mold. In making compost in a compost heap, soil and manure are often mixed with the vegetable matter.Should the average home gardener have a compost heap?
Yes, by all means. It is about the only adequate substitute for the "well-rotted" manure which is less available than it used to be.What materials are used in making a compost heap?
Plant refuse: cornstalks, cabbage stems, dead foliage, and discarded vegetables; leaves, grass cuttings, garbage, soil, manure (in fact, any vegetable matter that will decay), plus lime and complete fertilizers. Weeds, even when seeding, may be used if the heap is to be remade at the end of each 3 months, turning it inside out so that every part of the heap is completely decomposed before use. A heap treated in this way is so well rotted that most seeds and insect eggs are destroyed.How is a compost heap constructed?
Heaps 4 ft. wide and 6 ft. long are convenient size for the small place. Dig out this area to a depth of from 12 to 18 ins. and throw the soil to one side. The bottom layer should be cornstalks, cabbage stems, and other coarse material, tamped down. Over this lay 2 or 3 ins. of soil, and then 2 or 3 ins. of manure, if available. Peat moss can be used if manure cannot be had. Sprinkle raw ground limestone over every other layer at the rate of a quart to a wheelbarrow-load of compost material. On alternate layers apply a complete chemical fertilizer, about a quart to each alternate layer. Add layers of leaves, cuttings, weeds, etc., with a layer of soil, manure, or peat moss every 12 to 18 ins. Keep sides even but sloping very gradually inward toward top. When all material has been placed in layers, soak thoroughly with hose and cover entirely with 3 ins. soil, well firmed down. The top is left saucer-shaped to receive and absorb rainfall. Do not let heap dry out at any time. At end of 3 months remake entire heap, turning inside out, if rapid decomposition is desired.What length of time is required for a well-made compost heap to rot?
Four months to a year, depending on its composition and whether or not ingredients have been added to hasten decay; usually about 9 months.What is a good formula for making a compost pile break down quickly? I understand lime should not be used as it causes loss of nitrogen.
Lime should be used, but should not come in immediate contact with added fertilizer.Is the use of a compost starter advisable?
Most of those sold are only fertilizers plus limestone. Your own fertilizer will be much cheaper. Others are bacterial cultures. Bacteria can be added for nothing with garden soil.How often should a new compost heap be started?
To maintain a constant supply of compost, a new heap should be started every 6 months.How is rotted compost used in gardening?
It should be sieved through a coarse (1-in.) screen and then diluted with 3 or 4 parts of garden soil. It can be worked into the garden by applying a 1-1/2 in. layer and cultivating it into the upper 6 ins. of soil. For a lawn dressing, apply the sieved compost without dilution with soil.How should decomposed compost be removed from the heap?
Cut sections down vertically with a spade, leaving straight, clean sides where it has been removed. Sift through a 1-in. sifter and save coarse siftings for a new compost heap.Must I use compost in my garden? I have no space for a compost pile.
Unless you can afford to buy peat moss in large amounts, compost is the only way to supply organic matter. For those with limited space, composting in the plastic bags used for disposing of lawn clippings and other wastes will solve the problem. Mix leaves, lawn clippings, or even garbage with about a handful of a good mixed fertilizer, plus a pint or two of good garden soil to each bushel. Dried leaves should be sprinkled enough to moisten them through, but not make them soggy. Clippings and garbage will not need additional moisture. Seal the materials in a plastic bag and tie shut. Stack the bags in any convenient place (I have used a garage and a root cellar). At temperatures above 70 degrees F., material will be ready for use in three to four months.