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Outdoor Home Improvement - Compost
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If you love to garden, whether flowers or vegetables, you will need good compost to help provide the plants with needed microorganisms and nutrients. The result will be a healthier plant and better blooms or larger vegetables. Rather than spend money on compost, you can create your own compost that will cost you nothing and, it will be just as rich in nutrients if not more than, what you would buy from the store.

The first thing is to determine the location for your compost pile. For this, you have several options. You can create a pile near your flowerbed or garden as a stand-alone compost pile. However, if you want the compost contained, you can build a 4x3-foot box with wire mesh on the sides for containment or you can actually buy compost boxes that have lids to close and some with locks. These boxes are the most popular in that they look nice and keep any compost smell away from the house.

Okay, so what is compost? This is made from things you might otherwise throw away such as potato peels, banana peels, radish tops, grass clippings, leaves, things that are biodegradable. As you finish your family dinner or working in the yard, you will be amazed at all the things you can add to the compost pile.

Think about all the things you typically put in the garbage disposal or garbage. Perhaps you have the Sunday newspaper that would be thrown out. Instead, put it in the compost pile. Other things to consider include coffee grounds, pet hair, tea bags, cold fireplace ash, sawdust, spoiled fruit, even cow/horse manure.

The type of things you do not want to use in your compost pile includes grease, meat scraps, or anything chemically treated. If you want to use things like pine needles or large chunks of wood, just make sure you have it chopped up into small pieces.

To have a successful compost pile, you need to maintain 30 parts of carbon to one part of nitrogen. What happens with too much carbon is that the pile will take an extremely long time to decompose while too much nitrogen will cause the compost pile to smell bad. The type of materials high in carbon includes leaves and sawdust and the type high in nitrogen would include blood meal and fertilizer.

The key to a good compost pile is keeping it diverse, which will provide you with greater benefit for microorganisms to help the compost to decompose quickly. Typically, compost material will shrink less than 5% so it is important to add new layers about every two weeks. If the pile has settled and the box is full, you want to turn the compost as a way of speeding up the decomposition process. A good forked shovel is perfect for the job.

After the pile has decomposed, you will spread it around your flowers and vegetable garden to feed it the rich microorganisms and nutrients needed. You can also use compost around trees, bushes, and shrubs.
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