How to make compost for your deep raised bed
What does good well-matured compost look like: dark brown crumbly, fibrous soil; this is what you goal is in making compost and all you need to do this is right there to hand. Composting is recycling at its very best.
The first step in the making of compost is to start and stop worrying that you will not get it right. Unfortunately, making compost is a subject that is often made to sound more complex then it really is. At worst, it is a pile of garden waste that is left to rot in a corner of the plot for a few years and then spread out over the ground. At best it is garden waste that is stored in well made containers, that are turned and keep moist and then spread out on the plot all within a few months.
The next thing to do is to try to gain some understanding of the composting process. It is always easer to do something well if you know why and what you are doing.
There is no magic about it and the best way to start is just to get on and do it. You first batch of compost may not be the quality that you wish for and may take you longer than you hoped but never mind. It will still be useful stuff and the next batch is likely to be better. In the end, you will find and devise a system to suit your own particular circumstances.
One thing to remember is that because composting is a natural process; nature will be on your side. The little “bugs” that make up the myriad of creatures in your compost heap will be your very own useful little workers that will know just what to do.
How many are there? Well you be surprised to learn that its has been estimated that there are around one thousand million microscopic organisms alone in each teaspoonful of compost. Those of you who are suspicious, or not too fond of creepy crawlies should be aware of this when investigating a compost heap while it is working. It is very easy to think that the heap is full of awful pests, when in fact they are simple legitimate workers.
Where do these little beast come from, well I would not worry about that; all that you have to do is start to heap up suitable materials and these compost workers will appear as if by magic.
Why? Because they are hungry and you are providing them with food in abundance and they will just come along and munch away. Breaking the organic matter down and as their numbers increase so the rate of decomposition speeds up. Because of all this activity, heat if produced, which in quite noticeable if the heap is large enough to contain it.
In a very hot heap, the oxygen that the composting microbes need may be in short supply, so, after a few days and work will slow down; so what you must do is turn the heap to introduce more air which will start it up again.
Not every compost heap will heat up, especially those that are made bit by bit. This does not mean that it will not compost; it will just take longer that is all. But if you build a heap and then started another one and then another one, after a while you will always have compost for your deep raised beds when every you need it, what very the season.
What is going on in your heap is quite simple. Having finished the more tender ingredients of the compost heap, the bugs will move on to the tougher material. The rate of work will slow down and the heap might well cool. At this stage of the game, the big boys will move in: worms, beetles, and all sorts of creepy things that you will be able to see.
By the end of the process, most of the ingredients of the compost heap will have been broken down, mixed together and made into what we call compost.
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