Composting for plants is a great way to improve the health of your soil, reduce your gardening costs, and add essential nutrients to your soil. It is not however, a very quick or easy process. It can take weeks before your plants start to sprout, and it may take a few months before they actually appear. It is often necessary to compost the soil as soon as you plow, especially if you have a garden that spans more than one garden bed. That being said, here are some helpful home gardening tips that will help you compost quickly and efficiently.
Most plants need a minimum of 10% composted materials to thrive, which is easily provided by many plants and even some vegetables. Fertilizers, like nitrogen, are the most important element in making compost. Nitrogen is needed to give plants the nutrients they need to grow, while also acting as an activator to the decomposition process. While there are many different fertilizers available, the best ones for plants are those that contain at least 10% nitrogen.
There are many different species of fungi that feed on plant waste, which is why it is essential to remove these before you begin. Some common fungi that do well in composting are Penicillium, Trichoderma, Aspergillus, and Penicillium roqueforti. If you are trying to compost with a worm product, be sure to get one that contains a high amount of blood, such as WBS or worm castings. A high amount of blood will help remove a lot of the decaying material from your soil, resulting in better-tended and healthier plants. The worms will also be drawn to the new, oxygenated soil, sucking up all the nutrients in the process.
Other important organisms that you need to have in your composting process are aerobic (oxygen-loving) micro-organisms. These are what will decompose the organic matter on-site. They come in a wide variety of strains and are naturally found in most soils. However, you want to add a very high amount of oxygen-loving micro-organisms to your compost pile. This means you should look for live, active micro-organisms like yeast, filamentous fungi and others. Don’t go for the aerobic, non-bacterial varieties because they won’t do much good and could make your compost taint and poison your plants.
Be sure to balance the proportions of your composting ingredients so that you can have the best chance of having a healthy plant. Also be aware that you want plenty of moisture because the composting process is designed to let the micro-organisms break down organic matter with no water. In fact, if you add too little water, the microorganisms may not be able to breakdown all the material. So, it is crucial you add just the right quantity of microorganisms to maximize the composting process.
When using a mushroom type compost, there are two different kinds you can use. There is the casing to protect the inside of the mushroom and the moisture content feeder to keep the microorganisms happy. The casing, of course, has to contain enough air to allow the compost to decompose. The moisture feeder allows the feeders to stay a certain distance from the compost so the microorganisms have something to break down the organic waste. Usually, these two items are mixed together. Some people like to add some natural, non-toxic weed seeds to their compost as well because they don’t tend to attract as many microorganisms as some other types of fungi.
Another way you can add moisture to your compost is through the addition of potassium nitrate or NPK. This helps the microorganisms break down plant matter faster by providing them with nitrogen. Nitrogen is essential to many plant growth, especially for fruit and vegetables and other plants that are very high in nitrogen are usually better-suited for this kind of compost. However, it can be harmful to human health if you are allergic to nitrogen in any form, so always read labels carefully before adding it to your compost for plants.
In a nutshell, adding moisture to your compost will help the microorganisms do their job and decompose your organic waste much faster. If you add enough organic waste to your compost, the organisms can destroy most of the weed seeds in your compost in just a few weeks. Just make sure you mix your mushroom substrates thoroughly between layers of gravel before adding it to the other layers.