What can go on a compost heap? What can soil organisms convert there into valuable humus, also known as compost soil?
Depending on the material you add to the compost, it will contain more or less nutrients. For example, kitchen waste, ideally from organic vegetables and fruit, healthy plant parts that are left over from harvesting and pruning, or grass clippings are rich in nutrients. Coffee grounds, tea bags and eggshells, including weeds if they have not yet formed seeds. Even the grass soil that is created when new bed areas are dug can be placed in the compost with the roots facing upwards. Twigs and leaves, on the other hand, are poor in nutrients. On their own, they only produce usable compost after a very long time. So it's all about the good mix.
Under no circumstances should the following be put in the compost: meat and fish, cooked food leftovers, wood and coal ash, citrus fruit peels, glass, metals, plastics, plastic - including the twine from flower bouquets -, diapers, vacuum cleaner bags, dog and cat excrement, diseased plants or parts of plants , cigarette butts, oils and fats. Microorganisms and soil organisms cannot decompose all of this, or can only decompose it unfavorably. Or it attracts uninvited guests. A plastic bottle, for example, has a half-life of 450 years. (Unfortunately) no earthworm can help. A note about wood and coal ash: The wood you get commercially is usually contaminated with pesticides. BUT: Ash that results from burning your own, untreated wood can safely be put in the compost. Uncoated cardboard can also be disposed of in the compost from time to time.
How do I get nutrient-rich compost soil if I don't have space for a compost heap? How do I start the rotting process in a new compost pile?
Not everyone has space for a compost bin - especially not if you garden on the balcony like me. But there are great solutions for this. For example, I use a compost bag . To start the decomposition process, I moved every earthworm I could find into the bag. There was also a good portion of forest soil - because it is full of microorganisms. And off we went.
Alternatively, you can also add compost from another active compost heap as a starter. In the garden, the compost heap should be in contact with the garden soil for the same reason. This allows microorganisms and earthworms to quickly move into their new home.
In the following months it is important to make the soil creatures and microorganisms really comfortable, i.e. to offer the best working conditions. The compost bag is therefore kept in partial shade and can of course get wet. I even water it during long dry periods. The rule of thumb here is not too moist and not too dry. The same principle applies in the garden.
Another little tip: The rotting process runs fastest if the compost is fed with a lot of plant matter etc. right from the start. This really heats up the microorganisms. Inside the pile, temperatures of up to 70 degrees Celsius can arise during rotting. If plant waste only ends up in the compost sporadically, the process will be slower.
After about six months, or up to twelve months at the beginning, you can remove your first compost soil from the bag. Sieve it and put it in the pots. Old potting soil in particular can be wonderfully improved with compost and you don't have to throw it away.
Then just turn the bag over and continue.
Compost and organic slow-release fertilizer are the perfect combination to supply plants for the entire gardening season.
Compost is wonderful for providing fresh nutrients to the (potted) soil after winter. But at some point these will be used up. Then it's time to fertilize, right?
I save myself some stress here and take precautions right away when potting or planting. By incorporating organic fertilizer made from sheep's wool into the soil, whether in a pot or a bed. Sheep's wool is a natural source of nutrients that decomposes thanks to soil organisms and only takes effect about three months after being added. Exactly when the plant usually needs replenishment. For you, this means that your plants are well looked after throughout the entire gardening season and you have more time to enjoy your garden.
I actually only fertilize very occasionally using this principle, for example with tomatoes in pots. And only when the plant demands it, because leaves turn yellow.
The sheep's wool fertilizer is now available fresh from the Morigl farm in the shop - this year also in a large 2.5 kilogram package.
Now off to the new gardening season. I hope you have fun gardening in the city and always have enough time to enjoy it.
- Seeds for young and old