Compost

Is it garbage or is it a way to fertilize your garden? Compost is made of decomposed organic materials, aka broken down vegetation. Compost can be used to help your garden grow and helps your soil help your plants! You may ask, ‘Where do I compost? How do I compost? What do I compost? ’ Compost has many purposes and it’s easy, so anyone can do it!

First of all, making a compost bin is simple! All you need is a couple of plastic bins, some worms, and some organic material. With your bins you can stack them and on the top bins, poke holes in the bottom so the liquid can drip through, also for more air. Put some already processed soil, the worms, some liquid, and the vegetation into the bins and put a lid on the top. It is as easy as that. In a couple months, your mineral-enriched compost will be ready to be used in your garden beds.

Compost is made when organisms digest the material. The waste then makes up the soil and all of the minerals. All of the vitamins found in the organic materials are broken down when eaten and then passed after decomposition. Decomposition happens naturally in nature with materials such as flowers, leaves, and other plants. In other words, “Decomposition occurs naturally anywhere plants grow. When a plant dies, its remains are attacked by microorganisms and invertebrates in the soil, and it is decomposed to humus. This is how nutrients are recycled in an ecosystem” (1).

Certain conditions make it easier for the decomposition to happen. The microorganisms need air and water to decompose, this process then produces mineral-enriched compost, heat/energy, water, and carbon dioxide. They also require carbon and nitrogen, the “ratio (C: N) is significant. The bacteria and fungi in compost digest or "oxidize" carbon as an energy source and ingest nitrogen for protein synthesis. Carbon can be considered the "food" and nitrogen the digestive enzymes” (1). The enzymes require the carbon and nitrogen so that they can complete the process of decomposition. The carbon makes up the main bulk of the organic material and the nitrogen helps the process along. Without enough nitrogen, the process slows down and with too much nitrogen, the compost releases a very strong odor. The proper ratio of carbon to nitrogen should be 30:1. The microorganisms also need the compost to constantly be turned over, so that they can get oxygen. If you have any extra liquids, make sure to put it into your compost bin! The microorganisms need liquids too! Also, the “microorganisms generate heat as they decompose organic material. A compost pile with temperatures between 90= and 140=F (32=-60=C) is composting efficiently. Temperatures higher than 140=F (60=C) inhibit the activity of many of the most important and active organisms in the pile” (1). If the compost pile gets too hot, it could kill all of the microorganisms, similar to when you have a fever, your body is trying to cook the bad cells out of your body.

When testing to make sure that your compost is mature and ready to use, you will know it is not ready if it “is still hot or smells like ammonia, or you can recognize the original material that you added. The simplest way to test your compost’s readiness is to use the bag test, which involves putting a handful of compost in a sealable bag and checking it after a week. If the contents of the bag smell like ammonia or smell sour, then the microorganisms are still working and the compost needs more time” (2). For the best results keep your compost covered and not always in direct sunlight.

When your compost is finally ready to be used, mix it with some soil and you are ready to grow your wonderful garden! If you don’t have a backyard or anyplace to make a compost bin, try getting together with some of your friends and making a community compost bin where everyone in your neighborhood can contribute! Also, you can talk to your school principal and see if you can get a compost bin installed at your school. Composting is just one way to better the environment and by working hard and taking action, you can do anything. Works Cited

1. "Compossting: The Basivs." HowtoCompost.org. howtocompost.org, n.d. Web. 3 Aug. 2015. .

2. "Composting 101." Queens Botanical Garden. Queens Botanical Garden, n.d. Web. 27 July 2015. .Work Cited

Article and photos thanks to Rylyn

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