Adding compost to your vegetable garden provides an excellent natural fertilizer. Compost is a mixture of organic matters such as leaves, manure, table scraps. These items are left in a pile to decay where soil organisms will break it down into a fine, homogeneous soil additive for your garden.
Making a compost pile takes only a modest amount of effort. Start small and work your way up. Select an area about 10 feet (3 m) on a side, or a circle about 10 feet in diameter. If you have a pile of leaves raked from Fall, that’s a great beginning. Over the year you can add grass cuttings, straw, vegetable leftovers or any other organic material you have lying around.
Allow your pile to get 3-5 feet (1-2m) high. Then flatten the top and make a small indentation to trap rainwater. You want the pile to be moist but not too wet. Too much water blocks the air circulation that is needed for the material to compost.
Air provides oxygen that feeds the organisms that break down the material. Although you want air circulation, you dont want the pile to be too loose either. Because once the pile reaches a certain size and stage of chemical activity it will begin to heat. If the pile is too loose the heat will escape thus hindering the chemical activity process.
To increase the value of your compost you can add other items such as raw bone meal, ground rock phosphate and lime. These items won’t break down during the composting process but will help increase the value of the compost fertilizer in the end.
Layering the compost pile with vegetation and these additives is a good idea. When you have a layer about a foot deep, pour on some rock phosphate. For a 100 square foot compost a total of five pounds should be plenty, so add an amount proportional to how much compost you’ve accumulated. A pound of limestone will serve for the total pile.
Manure can also be applied to the layers in the compost pile. Usually a few inches of high for every foot of compost is sufficient. Manure can either be used alone as a fertilizer or works to enhance compost pile.
When the compost pile has been active for a few weeks, you can stir up the material to keep it uniform. This helps distribute organisms throughout the pile. By rotating the layers it will give you a more even fertilizer.
Once the pile is ready to use, you can spread it over the entire garden area. If you have enough spread about 25 pounds for every 100 square feet of garden area. If not simply apply it to those area where the garden will be planted and watch your vegetables flourish with the help of this wonderful natural fertilizer.