Vermicompost
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×
 

Vermicompost

on

  • 1,011 views

Compost is simply decomposed organic material. The organic material can be plant material or animal matter. While composting may seem mysterious or complicated, it’s really a very simple and natural ...

Compost is simply decomposed organic material. The organic material can be plant material or animal matter. While composting may seem mysterious or complicated, it’s really a very simple and natural process that continuously occurs in nature, often without any assistance from mankind. If you’ve ever walked in the woods, you’ve experienced compost in its most natural setting. Both living plants and annual plants that die at the end of the season are consumed by animals of all sizes, from larger mammals, birds, and rodents to worms, insects, and microscopic organisms. The result of this natural cycle is compost, a combination of digested and undigested food that is left on the forest floor to create rich, usually soft, sweet-smelling soil. Backyard composting is the intentional and managed decomposition of organic materials for the production of compost, that magical soil enhancer that is fundamental to good gardening. Anyone can effectively manage the composting process.

Statistics

Views

Total Views
1,011
Slideshare-icon Views on SlideShare
1,011
Embed Views
0

Actions

Likes
0
Downloads
64
Comments
0

0 Embeds 0

No embeds

Accessibility

Categories

Upload Details

Uploaded via as Adobe PDF

Usage Rights

© All Rights Reserved

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
Post Comment
Edit your comment

    Vermicompost Vermicompost Document Transcript

    • www.natureherbs.org 2012 The Basics Of CompostingWhat Is Compost?Compost is simply decomposed organic material. The organic material can beplant material or animal matter. While composting may seem mysterious orcomplicated, it’s really a very simple and natural process that continuouslyoccurs in nature, often without any assistance from mankind. If you’ve everwalked in the woods, you’ve experienced compost in its most natural setting.Both living plants and annual plants that die at the end of the season areconsumed by animals of all sizes, from larger mammals, birds, and rodents toworms, insects, and microscopic organisms. The result of this natural cycle iscompost, a combination of digested and undigested food that is left on theforest floor to create rich, usually soft, sweet-smelling soil.Backyard composting is the intentional and managed decomposition oforganic materials for the production of compost, that magical soil enhancerthat is fundamental to good gardening. Anyone can effectively manage thecomposting process. In fact, if you have organic matter, it’s virtuallynatureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012impossible to prevent decomposition. The trick is to maximize the process ofdecomposition, while avoiding the unpleasant effects of the natural process ofdecaying matter. Compost is good; sloppy garbage heaps and rotting food arebad.Why Is Compost So Good?Compost is good for two very compelling reasons. It’s great for the garden, andit’s environmentally responsible.Garden BenefitsCompost is great for the garden because it improves the soil, which in turnsupports healthier and more productive plants. Compost provides virtually allof the essential nutrients for healthy plant growth, and it almost alwaysreleases those nutrients over time to give plants a slow, steady, consistentintake of the elements essential for growth. Compost also improves the soil’sstructure, making it easier for soil to hold and use the right amount ofmoisture and air. Compost will improve the texture of both clay and sandysoil; indeed, compost is the best additive to make either clay or sandy soil intorich, moisture holding, loamy soil. And, as an added benefit, compostimproves plant vigor and provides for improved immunology from diseases.Environmental BenefitsThe most obvious environmental benefit is that composting can significantlyreduce the amount of solid waste that would otherwise find its way into thetrash collection and dumping cycle. Clearly, the more we compost, the less wecontribute to the cost of trash removal and the volume of solid materials inlandfills. Using compost to feed your lawn and garden will also reduce yourdependency on chemical fertilizers. So, you’ll save money and reduce – if noteliminate - the potential of chemical pollution to your little piece of theenvironment. Using compost instead of chemical fertilizers will ensure thatyour lawn and garden thrive in soil that is alive and healthy.What’s The Best Way to Make Compost?To make compost, you’ll need to dedicate some outdoor space to the process.Ideally, the location of your compost production should be convenient to thegarden, as well as close to the source of the raw materials (kitchen scraps,lawn clippings, etc.), without being an unappealing eyesore. Finding a goodspot for your compost pile might be a little bit easier if you have a lot of land;but, even suburbanites and city dwellers can effectively maintain a compostnatureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012 pile with a little bit of creativity and effort. And, the benefits – both to the garden and the environment – far exceed the effort! Open Bins or Containers There are two basic kinds of compost piles: open bins and enclosed containers. Open bins can be constructed with wood, chicken wire, or recycled plastic. Of course, municipal large scale composting is often conducted in large open piles without the use of any bins at all. These compost heaps are often turned by bulldozers or other pieces of heavy equipment, so container walls are not practical. Enclosed containers for composting usually consist of one of two designs: upright box-like containers, and rotating drums. Advantages of Open Bin Composting Open bins easily collect rain water Open bins are very convenient for adding materials Disadvantages of Open Bin Composting Open bins can attract rodents, flies, bees, and bears Open bins can become too wet, if not covered Open bins may be more difficult to mix (more on that later) Open bins may be an eyesore to your neighbors Advantages of Compost Containers Compost containers will rarely attract pests Upright containers may be more aesthetically appealing Rotating drums are usually easier to mix or turn Rotating drums are easy to unload Rotating drums usually have “screening” options Disadvantages of Compost Containers Enclosed containers usually require you to add water Upright containers may be very difficult to mix or turn natureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012Two Chambers are Always Better than OneWhether you choose to use an open bin or a compost container, two chambers arealways better than one. In fact, if you are really serious about composting, having twochambers is a necessity. Because the composting process takes at least several weeksunder the best conditions, you cannot add additional materials to the heap without“resetting the clock” to day. To create an ideal batch of fully composted material, yourmix needs to “cook” for at least several weeks; if you add additional material, you’llhave a mix of fully decomposed material, partially decomposed material, and freshmaterials. It’s simply much easier, and much more desirable to use a consistentmixture of fully decomposed compost for gardening purposes. After all, you wouldn’twant to buy a bag of potting soil that contained a rotting tomato in it!Key Ingredients for Great CompostOne of the great aspects of composting is that the key ingredients are often things thatyou’d be tempted to throw away. So, with just a little effort, you can contribute less tothe trash stream (good for the environment) and make great compost (good for yourgarden).Compost is created when you provide the right mixture of key ingredients for themillions of microorganisms that do the dirty work. These microorganisms will eat,multiply, and convert raw materials to compost as long as the environment is right.The environment doesn’t have to be absolutely “perfect,” so you don’t need to be amicrobiologist or chemist to have successful compost. You need to provide: food,water, and air.The water and air are easy. The food is a little more complex. Food for your littlemicro friends consists of two classes of materials, simply referred to as “Greens” and“Browns.” Green materials are high in nitrogen, while brown materials are high incarbon. The green materials provide protein for the micro bugs, while the brownmaterials provide energy.Typical green materials are:natureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012  Fresh (green) Grass clippings  Fresh manure (horse, chicken, rabbit, cow)  Kitchen scraps (fruit, vegetables, coffee grounds, tea bags)  Weeds  Green leaves  Leftover fruits from the gardenTypical brown materials include:natureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012 Brown, dry leaves Dried grass Cornstalks (shredded) Straw Sawdust Just like us, the little microorganisms need a balanced diet, along with water and air. Too much, or too little of any ingredient significantly reduces their productivity. It is hard to have too much of the brown category. As noted earlier, leaves in the forest decompose without significant quantities of “green” components (although animal droppings do contribute to the green part of the mix) – but, the decomposition takes a little longer. Too much green is usually the problem. A pile of kitchen garbage will never become useful compost; it simply becomes a smelly pile of garbage. Landfills are not composting sites. Most municipal composting operations begin with the huge quantities of dry leaves that are collected each fall. A good mix of browns and greens also helps the pile maintain the right amount of moisture and air. A pile that is 100% grass clippings, for example, will quickly become a matted, soggy mess, with too much moisture and too little air. It will decompose, quickly at first, but then stall. Mix in some dry leaves, and you’ll have a significantly more efficient mixture. The dry leave help maintain air pockets within the pile and also provide a more balanced diet for the bacteria and fungi that cause the decomposition. natureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012The Ideal Combination of Browns and GreensThe best combination of browns and greens is about 4 parts of “browns” to one part“greens” by volume. Of course, this is a rough approximation. If you have morebrowns, you’ll still get compost. it’ll just take a little longer. If you are on the side oftoo much green, you’ll likely have a smelly garbage heap.The best source of brown material is dry leaves. In many parts of the country, theannual fall clean-up of leaves from deciduous trees is seen as a necessary chore. Ichoose to see it as the harvest for next year’s compost pile! Harvesting, shredding, andstoring dry leaves is the best thing you can do to create great compost. Use a leafvacuum or a lawn mower to shred the leaves, and collect them when they’re dry, if atall possible. I like to store my stash of dry leaves in large plastic bags that I can hideunder my deck or porch until I need them to keep the greens in my compost binbalanced."Hot" vs. "Cold" CompostingAs noted earlier, decomposition occurs naturally, and, except for extreme conditions,it’s virtually impossible to stop it. But, decomposition doesn’t necessarilyoccur efficiently.When we provide the micro bugs with a good mixture of browns and greens, as wellas some water and air, decomposition can be very efficient. This is known as “hot”composting, sometimes call “aerobic” composting, because the microbes that requireair have sufficient air to live, eat, and reproduce quickly. The compost pile can attaintemperatures as high as 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which will kill some weed seeds,make most of the microbes very active, but will deter worms and some other critters.As the pile cools, the worms will return to assist in the decomposition. Hotcomposting is fast, and a well maintained compost heap can fully decompose inseveral weeks. While some ads claim that you can make compost in 14 days, I’venever experienced that phenomenon in over 25 years of careful composting."Cold" composting is slower, primarily because the environment is hospitable tosome of the micro bugs, but it’s hardly ideal. This is the form of composting thatalmost always occurs in the forest, where the mix is often comprised of dry leaves anddead wood. It will decompose over time, but the temperature never gets very high,and the process can take years.Our goal is to create a composting environment that is "hot". At least during the latespring, summer, and early fall.Getting Started – Activators, Worms, MicroorganismsYou’ve built or bought a composter. You have some dry leaves and you’ll be addingnatureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012green materials (lawn clippings, kitchen waste, plant scraps) all summer. To someextent, you’ll be layering these materials to provide both a balanced diet and the bestmix for air and water penetration.How can you be sure that the composting will start?Do you need to buy a “compost activator” or a batch of worms?What if there aren’t any microorganisms in the mix?No. No. and, Don’t Worry.The microorganism essential to composting are plentiful in nature. (That’s why momalways told us to wash our hands after playing outside!) If you’re starting with leavesand other natural materials, you’ve got bacteria and fungi that are eager to help youmake compost. And, if you want to give the mix a little boost, one excellent and freeadditive is simply a shovel full of good garden soil. Assuming that it hasn’t beenpolluted with nasty chemicals, the soil is full of microbes that are eager to devour thegoodies in your compost pile.Compost activators won’t hurt, but they may not help enough to justify the cost. MikeMcGrath, former editor of Organic Gardening magazine and host of the radio show“You Bet Your Garden,” says that compost activators can be more helpful when thecompost heap is almost finished, vs. using them at the beginning of the cycle.Worms can significantly improve your composting effectiveness, just as worms in thegarden can improve soil tilth. My open bin compost piles have a healthy supply ofworms, probably because I occasionally add a shovel full of good garden soil to mybins.Worm composting, or Vermicomposting, is a separate form of composting, which isdiscussed later in this article.Size Matters – Smaller is BetterWhile it’s nice to have a larger pile, to develop a good heat core, and to produce a nicequantity of compost, the raw materials should be shredded whenever possible. Smallerparticles are simply easier to mix and easier for the little microbes to digest. Ofcourse, the micro bugs don’t eat the whole particle, but smaller particles of rawmaterials means that you’ll have more surface area for the millions of microbes to dotheir work.So, in summary, you should aim for "big heap, small particles."natureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012Worm Composting (Vermicomposting)Worm composting is the process of using worms in a container to digest kitchenvegetable scraps. The worms (red wigglers) eat the kitchen scraps and cast off theirwaste to produce a very rich fertilizer. Most worm composting is done indoors,usually in one’s basement. You’ll need to build or buy a worm composting “farm” ifyou want to dispose of your kitchen scraps by vermicomposting. You can buy a veryeffective worm composter and red worms from us.What NOT to DoDon’t add these ingredients to your compost pile:Meat, Fish, animal fats – Unless you can completely bury them, you run the risk ofattracting unwanted visitors to your compost. You might be able to add very smallportions (remember the Native Americans used fish to fertilize their corn), but theymust be completely buried, and adding them makes turning or mixing the workingnatureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012compost very problematic.Shredded Newspapers or Office Paper – Recycle them instead. The paper verylikely contains chemicals that are not good for your compost. Newspaper shredderswere very popular years ago, but the risk of adding ink chemicals isn’t worth it. By allmeans, recycle your paper and save trees, but don’t put them in your compost pile.Ashes from Your BBQ Grill – Another no-no. Wood ashes can be very useful insmall quantities. And, wood ashes can be helpful for certain lawn applications. But,never put BBQ grill ashes into your compost pile.Dog and Cat Feces – Are never good for your compost. There’s simply too much riskof adding nasty diseases, not to mention the unpleasant odor! Chicken, horse, cow,and rabbit manure is fine…in moderation. If you have access to these very highnitrogen sources, compost them. They’re too “hot” for most direct applications to thegarden. But, remember your brown to green ratio of 4-to-1. And, chicken manure isgreen, in composting terms… even though it’s brown in appearance.Be Careful When Adding These Ingredients!Sawdust – Because of its very high carbon content, and its very small particle size,sawdust can overwhelm a compost pile. But, it can also be quite useful if you have anoverload of green material. I add some from my woodworking shop when I have a lotof extra fruit in my pile at the end of the season. Avoid using sawdust that came fromBlack Walnut wood, as it contains a chemical that will stunt or prevent the growth ofsome plants, tomatoes in particular.Wood Shavings, Chips, and Bark – Like sawdust, the carbon content canoverwhelm, and shut down, an otherwise good compost mix. Set them aside, ifpossible, and let them decompose the old fashioned way, over time ("cold"decomposition).natureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012When and How to Use CompostSoil Building – Compost is the single best additive for good, even great, garden soil.It improves tilth, fertility, water retention for sandy soils, water drainage for clay soils,and improves your soil’s disease fighting characteristics. Add compost in spring andfall, and till it in.Garden Fertilizer – Compost can be used throughout the season as a gardenfertilizer. Simply side dress vegetables and flowers for a slow-release food source andimproved disease prevention.Lawn Feeding – Screened compost (compost that has been sifted to collect thesmaller particles) can be applied as a lawn fertilizer throughout the season. It willprovide a wonderful slow-release food as well as assist in lawn disease prevention.And, given that the nutrients aren’t as concentrated as in chemical lawn foods, you’llavoid the stripes that can easily occur when incorrectly applying chemicals. You’llavoid chemical run-off, and you’ll save money. Your lawn will be alive, withearthworms (natures aerators) and beneficial microbes.Compost vs. Mulch – Mulch is any material that is applied to the garden’s surface toprevent weed germination and to reduce water evaporation. Compost will help buildthe soil, and it will help retain moisture; but, it won’t do a lot to prevent weeds. It’s anideal growing medium; so, weeds are likely to be very comfortable in it. Use shreddedleaves for mulch, or a combination of shredded leaves and lawn clippings. Thecombination of lawn clipping and shredded leaves creates an attractive mulch thatwon’t blow away (as leaves alone tend to do) and allows water penetration (as grassclippings alone tend to matt and repel water).Potting Mix (seed starting, potted plants) – Compost can be used to create a verygood seed starting mix, or it can be added to potting soil to create a nutrient-richmixture. Most commercial potting mix is made from Canadian peat moss, which isvirtually void of nutrients, so the addition of good compost provides a real boost."hot" compost, which has been produced at higher temperatures, is less likely tocontain a lot of weed seeds. However, some of the fungi in compost may contribute to“damping off” of seedlings when compost is used for seed starting. To be safe, younatureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012 should consider “sterilizing” the compost before using it as a potting mix. You can sterilize compost by microwaving it, baking it in an oven, or pouring boiling water over it. Of the three methods, the boiling water treatment is the neatest and cleanest. Simply put the compost in a large flower pot and soak it with boiling water from a teapot or saucepan. How to know compost is ready to use? The point at which the compost is ready varies depending on how the compost will be used. In general, though, compost is ready when its dark and crumbly and mostly broken down with a pleasant, earthy, soil-like smell to it. Unfinished Compost For most uses it is acceptable to have some recognizable pieces of leaves or straw remaining in your compost. However, you should not use partly finished compost either as a seed starter mix or in areas where heavy nitrogen feeding plants are to be grown. Because unfinished compost is still actively breaking down, organisms in the material continue to take nitrogen from their surroundings. When mixed with the soil, the organisms will begin to draw the nitrogen from the soil in order to have the energy to continue the decomposition process. The result is a nitrogen defecit in the soil to the detriment of the plants in the area. Signs of nitrogen deficiency are stunted plant growth, yellowing leaves often near the bottom of the plant, light green or yellow foliage and weak stems. Unfinished compost has also been known to damage or "burn" some plants and plant roots. This is a result of the heat given off by the decomposition process. When using unfinished compost it is a good idea to leave a few inches between the material and the stems of plants. Unfinished compost has also been shown to inhibit the germniation of seeds. If unfinished compost is to be applied to areas where seeds will be sown it should be done six to eight weeks before seeding begins. Ideally, compost should be applied in the fall for an area that will be seeded the following spring. Compost is unparalleled as a soil conditioner for: house plants lawns trees & shrubs annuals perrenials natureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012 bulb plantings flower beds vegetable beds potted plants / container plantings Indoor Plants Wait until your compost is completely finished before you use it for indoor plants. Established house plants will benefit from an inch of compost mixed into the top inch or two of soil. Potted Plants / Container Plantings Container plantings will benefit enormously from the addition of compost to the potting soil. Ensure that you use only mature compost in your containers to avoid burning any tender stems or roots. Here is a good recipe for a compost based potting mix suitable for containers: 1 part compost 1 part sharp sand 1 part perlite 1 part peat or good soil New planting areas Give new planting areas a boost by digging in as much compost as you can spare (up to four inches) into the top six to twelve inches of garden soil. Established planting areas Established plantings will benefit from an inch or two of compost worked into the top few inches of soil. Be sure to leave a gap between the compost and the base of the plant to avoid burning the stems. The nutrients will find their way down to the plant roots. Top dressing an Established Lawn Spread up to ½" of finished compost over an established lawn. Compost used as a top dressing for lawns should be fully broken down. Running the compost through a fine compost screen is a good idea to keep out any chunky bits. Large areas should be covered with a fertilizer spreader but smaller areas may be spread by hand or with a shovel. Aerating your lawn prior to spreading compost will be of additional benefit, enabling the compost to filter down under the sod more easily. natureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012For new lawnsStarting a new lawn is often challenging, particularly in areas with new homes wherethe builders have removed the original topsoil. The addition of compost to the existingsoil can greatly improve the chance that a new lawn will take hold and thrive. Up tothree inches of compost worked into the top six inches of soil will give the new lawnan excellent start. Either sod or grass seed can be placed on top of the amended soil.Around trees and ShrubsSpread a once to two inch layer over the soil surface starting from six inches from thetrunk out to the edge of the dripline of the tree or shrub.Making a compost pile is like making a giant layer cake! Well, not exactly but youwill soon see what we mean.But first, a few words about the amount of brown (carbon) material, versus green(nitrogen) material to put into your compost bin. Adding too much brown materialwill result in a pile that takes a long time to break down wheras too much greenmaterial will result in a slimy, smelly pile that doesnt heat up effectively. In order forour pile to break down quickly and efficiently we need to provide just the rightbalance of brown and green materials.The microorganisms in our compost bins need both carbon and nitrogen to thrive;carbon for energy and nitrogen for protein synthesis. For every one unit of nitrogenused by the bacteria they also consume about 30 units of carbon. And so in order tokeep the bacteria working efficiently we need to create an environment for them thatis approximately 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen.Unfortunately, most composting materials dont have a carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratioof 30:1. However, if we know the approximate C:N ratio of the materials we use inour compost, we can combine them so that the total mixture will be as near as possibleto 30:1. This may sound a bit complicated but it really isnt.For an example:We want to have a ratio of 30:1 in our compost bin but we only have access to thefollowing ingredients:· dry autumn leaves (C:N of about 50:1)· kitchen scraps (vegetable & fruit peelings, coffee grounds etc: about 12:1)· grass clippings (about 20-30:1)· sawdust (fresh: 500:1, rotted 200:1)natureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012Using different combinations of materials we will try to get close to the magic 30:1ratio. If we use 1 part dry leaves to 1 part kitchen scraps we would have the following:leaves 50/1 + kitchen scraps 12/1 = 62/2 = 31/1 or 31:1If we use 1 part leaves, 1 part kitchen scraps and 1 part grass clippings we wouldhave:50/1 + 12/1 + 20/1 =82/3 = 27:1. Not too bad. In this example we can add some extraleaves or a handful or two of sawdust to bump up the ratio nearer to 30:1Getting the mix of ingredients right is obviously not an exact science but a matter oftrial and error. Its something that gets easier after a few tries.Making the Compost PileStart with a 4 inch layer of brush, twigs, hay or straw at the bottom of the compostbin. If you dont have these materials, dry leaves will do. This first layer should be ascoarse as possible to allow air to be drawn up into the pile from the bottom of the bin.Then add a 4 inch layer of brown material, then a thin covering of finished compost orgood garden soil. Thats one layer. The addition of compost or soil is to provide thenecessary bacteria to get the compost to start breaking down. If we dont add this layerthe compost will still work, the addition just helps to speed things along.Then add a 4 inch layer of green material topped with a thin layer of an activator.Activators are a source of both nitrogen and protein, ingredients that assist theorganisms to break down the material. There are a number of good activators. Alfalfameal works amazingly well. You can also use fresh manure, bone meal, blood meal,cottonseed meal, or even high-protein dry dog food.MoistureMoisten each layer by misting it lightly with a garden hose. The key is to moisten thepile without making it too wet and soggy. Many people recommend adding moistureuntil the material is as moist as a wrung out sponge. This is far too wet. If you cansqueeze water out of it, its far too wet. Adding some dry brown materials such aschopped leaves or hay will help if this happens.natureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012If you live in a very arid climate, make an indentation in the top of the pile to collectrainwater and help keep the pile moist. Those living in rainy areas can cover the top ofthe pile with a tarpaulin or cover to keep it from becoming waterlogged.Measuring Moisture in Your Compost PileAcheiving the correct moisture content is an important factor in keeping a compostpile working efficiently.A moisture content of between 50-60% is desirable in an active compost pile but howmany of us know how to measure moisture? Sure, there are highly technical andcomplicated ways to calculate moisture content but we are not interested in anythingso technical and complicated.Here is a simple, time-tested way to judge the moisture content in your compost. First,take a handful of compost from the center of your pile and squeeze it in your hand:· If you can squeeze water out of it, the compost is too wet· If the compost does not release water but crumbles apart when released, its toodry· If the compost does not release water but stays compacted, its just rightFor those who feel the need for a slightly more technical method:· Weigh a sample of your compost· Dry the compost throroughly (you can use a conventional oven on low heat fora few hours)· Weigh the dried compost· Subtract the dry weight from the wet weight· Divide by the wet weight and multiply by 100. Voila! A more accurate readingof moisture contentTurning the Compost PileIf the pile has been made correctly the internal temperature should reach about 140° Fwithin 7-10 days. Ideally, the pile should heat up to 160° F so that any weed seeds andpathogens will be destroyed. A compost thermometer is a helpful tool to use at thisstage. Since the bacteria need air to survive they will start to die off after a week or soas they start to use up the available air in the pile. This drop in the amount of bacteriawill result in the compost pile cooling off a bit from its peak temperature. When thisnatureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012happens its time to turn the pile to get more air into it.When turning your compost pile, move the drier material from the outer edges into thecenter of the pile and break up any clumps of leaves or grass clippings to ensure thatyou get as much air into the pile as you can. Moisten any of the materials as you go, ifthey seem too dry.From this point on you should turn the pile every 14 days or so, or when you see thetemperature fall from the next peak in termperature of about 110° - 120° F. In general,the more you turn the pile the faster you will have finished compost. If youre using aplastic compost bin, an aerator tool will make the job of turning much easier. Agarden fork is often the best tool for turning compost in an open style bin.What should I do if I dont have enough materials to fill the compost bin all at once?When you can get your hands on some brown materials such as autumn leaves, savethem in bags or a separate bin nearby your compost bin. When you have addedenough green material to your compost bin to make a four inch layer, cover it with a 4inch layer of the saved brown material. Then you can start building another greenlayer.Green Composting MaterialsCompared to brown materials, green compost materials are much higher in nitrogen.Nitrogen is an important element in amino acids and proteins, and is a vital proteinsource for the compost microbes, helping to speed up the process of decomposition.Green materials that are very high in nitrogen should be used sparingly, especiallyfresh grass clippings.Vegetable Peelings (12:1)This category consists of any pieces of fruits and vegetables. Most of us have anendless supply of this type of material: potato peelings, apple cores, banana peels, anybits and pieces of uncooked vegetables that would otherwise have gone into thegarbage bin! It is best to avoid using cooked vegetables in your compost because oilsused in cooking will slow down decomposition and may attract rodents and otheranimals. One solution for those who wish to compost cooked vegetables is to use aclosed plastic bin with wire mesh on the bottom.natureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012Grass Clippings (20-30:1)Grass clippings are very high in nitrogen. While that may seem like a good thing, andit is, there are also a few things to consider. First, it is often best to leave grassclippings on the lawn where they will decompose naturally and help to feed the soil.If you do want to add grass clippings to your compost use them sparingly at first,adding a very thin layer on top of a layer of brown materials, or by mixing themthoroughly with other green materials. If they are applied too thickly they tend to formslimy clumps or mats that do not permit air circulation. The mats do not break downvery well and and release an unpleasant smelling (but harmless) ammonia gas.Fresh Manure (Various)Poultry (7:1), Sheep (16:1), Horse (22:1), Cow (18:1)Manure is a valuable ingredient in any compost pile. It contains a high level ofnitrogen which will help to get the pile "cooking" quickly. It is acceptable to usemanure from horses, cows, chickens, rabbits, sheep, goats and bats (guano) in yourcompost.Important: Do not use manure from dogs, cats, pigs or humans in your compost pileor in your garden as they can contain harmful parasites and can cause diseases inhumans. It is also advisable never to use any fresh manure in your garden unless ithas been composted first."...would your coffee shop be willing to exchange used coffee grounds for somecustomer loyalty?"If you dont have access to manure, dont worry. There are lots of alternativeingredients that are high in nitrogen that will give your compost pile a boost.Ingredients such as grass clippings, seaweed, and vegetable scraps will do the trick!Coffee Grounds (20:1)Coffee grounds are high in nitrogen and really help to heat up your compost. You cancompost any kind of coffee grounds and if you use a paper filter just toss it in as well.natureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012Many coffee shops collect their used coffee grounds and provide them free of chargeto their customers. Check with your local coffee shop to find out if there is a programin your area. If there isnt, why not get together with other local gardeners and petitionthe coffee shop that you patronise to start a program. Would your local coffee shop bewilling to exchange their used coffee grounds for customer loyalty? You bet!Coffee grounds can also be used directly in the garden as a mulch for acid lovingplants such as Azelieas and Rhododendrons."If you live in an area where seaweed is available, consider yourself blessed..."Seaweed (19:1)If you live in an area where seaweed is available consider yourself blessed. You havean almost endless supply of nutrient-rich composting material. The addition ofseaweed helps to get a compost pile to heat up due to its high nitrogen content. Mostpeople rinse the seaweed before adding to the pile to remove excess salt.Plants and Plant Cuttings (20-40:1)Most plants and plant cuttings can be composted including annual weeds withoutmature seeds, any remains of spent or harvested plants and flower tops collected fromdeadheading.Brown Composting MaterialsComposting relies on the right ingredients to be successful. Brown materials such asleaves, straw, hay and sawdust are high in carbon and are a source of energy for thecompost microbes.Leaves (50-80:1)Leaves are generally an excellent ingredient for your compost. Those living in areaswith a large bounty of autumn leaves should make the most of it and find someneighbours willing to pass on their leaves. Many neighbours will do the raking for youif you agree to cart away the piles!Living green leaves are considered "green materials", wheras the dead, dry leaves thatnatureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012fall from the trees in autumn are seen as "brown materials".Autumn leaves are a great source of carbon and contain a surprising amount ofnutrients that can be returned to the soil through compost. Although whole leaves areacceptable, it is better to shred the leaves before adding to the compost pile.Unshredded leaves tend to mat together excluding air from the pile. Leaves can beshredded in a number of ways:· using a commercial shredder or chipper· by pushing a lawn mower back and forth over a pile of leaves a few times. Theuse of a mulching mower blade will help.· shred leaves in a large garbage can with a lawn trimmer· Remember to wear eye protection regardless of the method you choose.There are a few types of leaves that need special attention when composting:walnut leaves contain a substance that inhibits the growth of many plants. As a result,walnut leaves should either be very thoroughly composted or omitted altogetheroak leaves take a very long time to break down because of their acidity and highlevels of tannin. They will break down into a wonderful amendment for acid lovingplants but it will take much longer than with other leaves. It is often a good idea tokeep them separate to allow the main compost pile to finish sooner. A separate pilecan then be made of oak leaves that can be used for plants that prefer an acid soil.Waxy leaves also take longer to break down such as those of the holly, laurel, rose,pine and rhododendron. They are often best composted separatelyLegume Hay (15:1) and Non-Legume Hay (30:1)All types of spoiled hay make an excellent addition to the compost pile.Straw: (80:1)Straw provides less nitrogen than hay but contributes more than double the carbon.Straw decomposes quite slowly so its an especially good addition in areas with heavyclay soil. The remaining straw particles in the finished compost help to open up thesoil structure.Paper & Cardboard (150-200:1)Paper such as newspaper, bills, paper towels, tissues can be composted but it shouldnatureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012be shredded first. Avoid adding glossy and highly coloured papers. Stiff cardboardshould be broken into small pieces or made into a slurry before its added to the pile.EggshellsEggshells contain calcium and are a useful addition to the comost pile. The shells dotake a long time to break down so its a good idea to crush them before adding. Do notinclude whole eggs in your compost, just the shells.Tea BagsBoth black tea and herbal teas can be composted, whether loose leaves or in bags.Sawdust* (400:1)Sawdust and wood chips contain very low amounts of nitrogen and are very slow tobreak down in the compost pile. Use sawdust in very thin layers or mix thoroughlywith a green material such as kitchen scraps or grass clippings. Large wood chips willtake a very long time to break down and are often put to better use as a mulch.*Be careful not to compost any sawdust or wood that has been "pressure treated" orotherwise treated with a chemical preservative. Pressure treated wood (oftenrecognizible by a greenish tint) has been shown to leach arsenic into the soil whenused for making playground equipment, compost bins and raised beds. For moreinformation see the section on "what not to add to a compost pile".Wood Ashes (25:1)Wood Ashes are an excellent source of calcium and potassium but are also veryalkaline. Use sparingly to avoid high pH levels that limit microbial activity. Avoidcomposting charcoal briquettes as they take too long to break down. Also, avoidcomposting the ashes created from commercially made "firelogs" which often containwax and other petroleum derivatives. Vermi composting is an eco-friendly technology. Application of vermin-culture technology in the recycling of Sericultural waste and other wastes has atremendous potential. It is estimated that, by recycling (3) times in a year thefarmer may get approximately 15 tones of vermin compost manure.natureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012 Vermi composing is a technology of using earthworms as versatile naturalbio-reactor for rapid conversion of any organic wastes under value addedmanure. The earthworms feed on the wastes of organics origin, which is richin NPK, micro nutrients, enzymes and vitamins suitable for crop growthbesides number of useful micro organisms.Cost details for construction of Four tanks with Shednatureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555
    • www.natureherbs.org 2012S. Particulars Quantity Amount (Rs.)No.1 Bricks 1000 No 3000.002 Cement 8 Bags 1,200.003 Sand 2 cart loads 150.004 Jelly 1 cart load 500.005 Stone poles or pillers 3 No ( 10’ height) 2,250.00 6 No (7’ height)6 Nilgiri or Casurina poles ( for roofing ) 16 No 1,200.007 Local wood reapers( to fix tiles) if tiles are used 24 No 800.008 Tiles 800 No 4,000.009 Labour charges ( Carpentry & mason) 2,000.0010 Miscellaneous 700.0011 Cost of earthworms 5200.00 For construction of 4 cement tanks with measurement of 3.00 mts x 1.5 mt with a depth of 1.00 mt and the shed size is 8mt x 4 mt with a height of 10 feet tiled or Asbestos sheets. natureherbs@ymail.com | +91 841 888 5555