Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:27 pm
To maintain a compost or to build it up and move it, that is for many the horror work in the garden par excellence. In fact, when we do this work in the summer in the sweltering heat. But with a few tricks you can make it much easier to work on the compost pile. Here are four important tips to make the job easier. After that, we will briefly describe once again the classic setting up of a pile.
Tips for easy work
1) Choose a cool day for the respective work, i.e. do not wait too long in spring, because May often brings us quite hot days, and then other work is constantly more important.
2) The second tip for easy work is proper tools. You need a stable, 4-tined fork (fertilizer fork) and for throwing through a stable sieve, a shovel (Holsteiner shovel, straight in front and not pointed) and a so-called Reuthacke (crown hoe, Rheinsche or Ulmer hoe) for loosening the settled soil.
3) The third tip for easy work in the garden are sturdy work shoes and gloves. With them, you automatically get a good workout. With sandals you are only half as fast, because you have to be careful all the time.
4) You need a lot of space for the composting area. Often it is too small. But it is not possible to work well in a confined space. The space should be able to accommodate three smaller compost piles and there must always be enough free space all around.
Set up compost pile
In the summer and fall, people have dumped leaves and litter in one place in a disorderly manner and thrown them roughly into a pile. This must be neatly piled up (put on) in the spring. The pile should be no more than 150 to 200 cm wide at the brine and 130 to 150 cm wide at the crown. A height of 130 to 150 cm is quite sufficient. Loose material can be trampled down a little.
A little quicklime is applied to each layer of 20 to 30 cm (1-2 kg quicklime/ezkalk or 2-5 kg carbonated lime/fertilizer lime per m³), which promotes the formation of very mild humus.
The pile has now been given a proper shape and lime has been added to it. It can be covered with fresh lawn clippings or similar material. This shading (a sort of mulching) promotes rotting. In order to obtain a healthy humus soil and to accelerate the biological processes of transformation in the compost heap, we can additionally inoculate the heap with so-called Effective Microorganisms (also. regenerative microorganisms). To do this, the appropriate solutions are diluted and brought out.with the watering can.
Until the so-called transplanting (next chapter) plant waste can be thrown on top of this pile. One pays attention only to the fact that the rent remains thereby somewhat in form and not disorder draws in.
Time: There is no fixed time for composting, but usually compost heaps are prepared in spring, for the reason mentioned above. I do it in such a way that I first shovel the compost in early spring to get some basic order on the compost site. Then, at the end of April, I put the compost on in peace with the lime admixture.
Turning, sifting – time
After about 4 to 6 months (in late summer), the compost pile is turned (shoveled) so that air can get to the organic material once again. In this process, the upper material is moved to the lower part of the pile, i.e. a new pile is built next to it. It is favorable to add some lime again. After another 6-12 weeks (late autumn) the compost is ready. This is the beginning of December. Then the finished humus soil is thrown through a sieve, which should not be too fine (mesh size 4 cm). Stones and non-rotting components are sorted out. Whatever else has not yet become soil is added to the future compost heap, because these remains harbor valuable soil organisms that promote the new rotting process. If the fresh humus soil is to be stored for a while, it makes sense to cover it with a tarp so that rain and snow don’t wash everything away and the fresh soil is ready for use in the spring. Plus, a covered pile won’t freeze through as much and you can still get seed soil in February when it freezes.
Sifting the soil can also be postponed until early spring. If a coarse compost is enough for you, you can do without sifting at all.
Important! The new organic material that has accumulated in the meantime (autumn leaves, etc.) is already collected on a new compost pile.
Less maintenance. How I do it.
If you keep your compost pile well supplied with nitrogen over the summer, whether by applying manure (e.g. small animal dung) or artificial fertilizer (calcium cyanamide), this promotes faster decomposition. Since I like to fill my cucumber greenhouse with fresh compost as early as the first half of October, I forego transplanting and sieve right through. I also gain enough soil in the process. The proportion of unfinished compost is then theoretically higher, but this also rots more quickly in the coming year.
If time permits, I turn the compost pile over more often. If it is cool in the summer, then also in the summer. The reason for this is that, firstly, it does not harm the whole rotting process and rather promotes it. The more important second reason is that by moving the materials, mice are prevented from making themselves at home in the said pile. To make this relocation possible in the summer, the pile should not be planted with pumpkins Tips for growing pumpkins, which is done with pleasure. To give it a better look, in recent years I have taken the habit of planting heliathi or the similar, more familiar Jerusalem artichoke as a screen next to the composting area.