Compost is a fermented organic fertilizer that is produced from the fermentation of plant and animal wastes.
So it is an inexpensive natural fertilizer that can be easily produced at home, in the garden, or in the field.
The principle of action of fermented organic fertilizer (compost):
The principle of compost is based on converting natural wastes – whether plant or animal – into natural fertilizer, and this is done by the aerobic germs present in the soil that need moisture and proper ventilation. It is an imitation of the principle of creating nature for the manure that naturally nourishes plants and trees.
Note: The basic factors that must be met for the success of compost to work: organic matter, moisture, oxygen, and bacteria.
Benefits and uses of compost for plants:
1 – It feeds all plants and trees, as it contains 2% of nitrogen, which helps the growth of plants and trees.
2- It improves the properties of the soil and makes it less cohesive – that is, the soil becomes brittle – and more able to hold water and make it more acidic.
3 – It is a natural fertilizer that is not harmful to the environment and plants.
4- It is a method of recycling garden and kitchen waste.
5- Saves fertilizer purchase costs.
The right time to start composting:
Compost can be done in any season of the year, but for ease of use, it is preferable to start composting in the home garden or in the field, starting in the spring after the cold winter. And if the amount of fertilizer is low and the compost will be produced in a plastic container, then home compost can be done throughout the seasons of the year.
The place of compost work:
The place is of great importance to the success of composting. Therefore, we choose a place that is shady, away from sunlight, rain and snow, and we choose the place so that it is slightly raised from the surface of the ground, if the compost workplace is on the land of the home garden or in the field.
The containers used to make compost:
We choose the type of compost container according to the quantity we need. We can use any plastic container or plastic bag punched from the sides and from the top, or we can use metal mesh with a diameter of 1 meter and a height of 1- 1.2 meters, or a wooden box, or we can put the materials used to make organic compost in the form of a pile on the ground of the field .
There are also containers ready to make compost that are sold in the market with different designs and different sizes suitable for making home compost in the home garden.
Ingredients used to make compost:
It is very important for the success of composting that the raw materials that we will use to make compost are in balanced proportions. These materials are divided into:
1 – Carbon-rich materials:
It should be 50% of the materials used. And we mean the substances rich in carbon are the dry plant materials, which are usually brown in color. An example is all plant residues after drying, such as dry leaves, dry weeds or hay. Also included are newspaper papers, cardboard, and charcoal scraps.
2 – Nitrogen-rich materials:
It should be 50% of the materials used. What is meant by nitrogen-rich materials are the green plant materials before they dry, which are usually green in color. For example, all non-dry plant wastes include green plant wastes such as green tree leaves and weeds, kitchen waste such as coffee and tea residues, fruit and vegetable peels, and animal dung, whether fermented or unfermented, such as chicken, pigeon, cow and sheep dung (it is not recommended to put it in the garden of the house because it is May attract flies.)
3 – Other materials:
Carbon and nitrogenous substances can be added to agricultural soil or prepared compost to contain the microorganisms that will help quickly and successfully make the compost. It is also possible to add urea fertilizer or any nitrogenous fertilizer by one cup per cubic meter, especially if the nitrogenous components are not available in sufficient quantity.
4- The materials that we must not add to the compost components:
1 – Meat, chicken, fish, canned waste (sardines, tuna …) and animal bones, whether raw or from kitchen waste, because they will attract rodents and other animals such as cats and dogs.
2 – The remains of cooked food: such as leftover rice and cooked vegetables.
3 – Milk and its derivatives and oils.
4- Tree branches infected with disease, or that have been sprayed with insecticides.
5- The twigs and pieces of wood are large in size, because it takes a very long time to turn into fertilizer, or we can convert them first to sawdust by special machines and then they can be placed within the components.
How to prepare:
It is preferable to cut the ingredients into small pieces, because the smaller the pieces, the shorter the time for obtaining the fertilizer, and we can cut the ingredients manually or automatically.
Then the previous components are prepared in the form of a pile or inside a box as follows:
We put the carbon materials first – preferably in the first layer we put tree branches and straw to allow the air to enter the pile from the bottom – and then put a layer of nitrogenous components. We repeat the laying of the layers alternating between the carbon and nitrogenous components, so that the last layer is of carbon materials, and it is preferable that the size of the heap be approximately one cubic meter.
After laying the layers, we moisten each layer with water. And after the completion of all the components, the mound is covered with straw, burlap, a loose plastic cover, or a layer of agricultural soil.
The same previous steps are also applied by placing alternating carbon and nitrogen layers to make compost inside a plastic container.
New ingredients can be added at any time. It is advisable to add a few layers of soil to the ingredients to speed up compost production.
After preparing and covering the components, we will have to perform two basic operations:
Stirring the components of the organic fertilizer (compost):
The goal of stirring the ingredients is to allow air to enter all parts of the components and thus provide the aerobic germs to continue their work. The number of flipping times depends on the time available to us, and the shorter the flipping times the better, and usually we flip it every week or every two weeks, and we can do the flipping every month in the field, but the time required to finish the work of the compost will be long and it may then take six Months or more.
And we use the agricultural fork flipping for the large pile, and it can be by hand for small plastic containers, and the important process of flipping is to make the components that were around the pile to become inside the heap and vice versa.
Moisturizing the components of organic fertilizer (compost):
We must moisten the components with water so that the aerobic germs continue to work, and we must not leave the ingredients to dry in order to moisten them with water, and we should not exaggerate with moisturizing. Therefore, the amount of water added to the ingredients is adjusted so that if we squeeze the ingredients, a thin layer of moisture remains on the hand without water droplets coming out of the hand.
Ensure that the method is successful:
When the ingredients are well prepared with proper humidification and frequent stirring, the aerobic germs will do their work and will disassemble the previous components and turn them into compost, and during their work the temperature of the components will rise, which we will infer to verify the success of the compost method. Therefore, we examine the rise in temperature after a week after putting the previous layers. If the temperature increases, this indicates the success of the compost.
We can measure the temperature by placing a rod inside the pile and then taking it out and placing it on the wrist to check its temperature.
There is a special scale in the market for checking the temperature of the compost components. Also, one of the indications for the success of composting is the decrease in the size of the heap with days.
Duration of composting:
There is no specific time for the compost to be finished and ready for use, because this depends on the size of the compost components and their homogeneity, on the frequency of stirring the ingredients, and on the good hydration of the components.
But in general the duration ranges from approximately 3-4 months.
How do we know that we have finished making the compost and it is ready?
When the components of the compost become similar to the features of the ready-made compost, it smells like the forest dust moistened with water, and has a dark brown or black color, and whose original ingredients are indistinguishable from each other, and its temperature does not exceed 37 ° C, and the temperature of the ingredients remains constant upon each stirring. But if the temperature of the ingredients rises after each stirring, then this indicates that the ingredients are not ready. We can also get to know the readiness of the compost by putting a handful of compost in a plastic bag and then after a week we will find that the temperature has not risen.
The reasons for the failure of the compost to succeed:
1- The ingredients are inconsistent with each other in terms of quantity and type. The solution is to rebalance the components, and the reason is often a lack of nitrogenous components.
2- Low or excessive humidity.
3- There is insufficient ventilation.
4- The amount of ingredients is small.