Master Gardener Presentation Notes
> Composting and Soil Preparation
Composting and Soil Preparation
(These are the notes from our talks on composting, February
A presentation by Cheryl Knox
Grape juice ---anaerobic ->
wine ----aerobic-----> ���
Plant material --anaerobic ->
silage ---aerobic-- -> composting
point: set up the conditions to get what you want.
container and site. Container
should exclude animals and provide easy access for turning. Site should be in
- Turn the
compost pile � aeration
critical � once a week during the growing (warm) season.
- Check moisture
(not soggy, not dry)
- Balance of
nutrient-rich as in grass clippings and dead rabbits) to Carbon
(dry plant material � cellulose as in Fall leaves and Spring thatch). This
balance (more Carbon than Nitrogen) creates the heat in the compost pile by
feeding the microbes that break everything down to compost. Compost pile should
reach 140F in center. Kills pathogens and seeds. Turning assures all parts get
In this climate, the whole process takes 1 year (90 warm
days). Best logic to have 2 compost piles � one for current year�s wastes and
one perking from last year�s wastes (that froze over the winter).
Raw materials for the Compost Pile
- Spare grass clippings if
you don�t use a mulching mower
- Non-diseased plant
material � chop with bagging lawnmower. e.g. Tomato plants with blight go to
the curbside for landfill.
- Wood shavings; wood
chips (Avoid wood parts with pine tar.)
- Refrigerator � dead
broccoli, green fuzzy casseroles, etc
- Vegetable trimmings,
onion skins, banana peels, egg shells, etc
- Always a warning about
animal products � meat, grease, etc. These can attract scavengers, but some
turned in well are OK.
When your compost is finished, sift it. Homemade sifter =
hardware cloth on a frame that fits into a wheelbarrow.