Last updated on October 21st, 2023 at 10:26 pm
Everyone to the compost! Still in the “natural gardening” approach, Leborgne is committed to waste reduction, in particular with its new Aérocompost from the naturOvert range. No need to tell you all the advantages of composting…: a considerable reduction of household waste and an organic fertilizer for your plantations are two that should seduce and inspire you enough to start this new “art of decomposition”…
In a few words, what is composting?
“Composting is the natural process of decomposing organic matter to form humus*,” explains Josselin Rivoire, editor of Terre Vivante’s 4 Seasons magazine. It is a process that is often found in many ecosystems, and according to some studies, 30% of household waste can be composted. This process results in an aerobic fermentation of waste that works through the action of a whole fauna in which we find bacteria, fungi, insects and worms: “It is a combined action of a varied fauna (insects, sowbugs …) but also microbial, in the form of bacteria and fungi.” The compost obtained from this process is therefore a natural organic amendment that can be used directly in plantations or to improve soil fertility for example.
How to set up your compost?
“The idea is to gather several essential parameters in order to favour the life of the composters: oxygen, water and various materials, in precise proportions. The golden rule is to maintain a balance between green waste (grass clippings, spoiled fruits and vegetables, peelings…) and dry and/or brown waste (dry wood shreds, prunings…). These 2 families of waste have different actions: the green matters will have “a fast decomposition and will support the bacteria” whereas the dry matters “have a slow decomposition, brings carbon and supports the mushrooms”. The idea is therefore to permanently limit the proportions of these 2 types of materials in the compost. What is advised is to place “2/3 green waste, for 1/3 dry waste.” Most of the time, compost is produced over the course of days, which means that it should be used on a weekly basis: peelings and household waste should be placed inside the compost as well as all the dry matter in order to “compensate” for certain shortages.
“The richness of a compost is the variety of what you bring to it”.
What are the different types of compost that we can have at home, their specificities ?
The type of compost will often depend on the quantity of material to be composted and will also vary according to the size of your garden. The so-called “classic” composts are either in piles, adapted to large gardens providing a lot of raw materials, or in drums or silos, mostly purchased in wood or plastic. “At Terres Vivantes, we prefer home-made compost. Often the silos that we buy in stores are too narrow and make access to the compost quite difficult. We favor the width of the composter rather than its height.” For example, in the context of a compost heap, it is necessary to ensure that it is well covered in case of bad weather, but also be careful that the temperature does not drop completely. The idea is to cover it either with a tarp or with a plant cover.
A good location for good composting
To obtain a good compost, it must be on a flat ground, weeded and in direct contact with the ground to facilitate the rise of worms, insects and other micro-organisms. Furthermore, access to the compost should be easy, in the shade and sheltered from the wind. It is not advisable to put it in a corner of your house or it will quickly become an unattended place… “A good location for a compost pile is in the shade because a situation that is too hot will dry it out.”
Good to know: For those who want to compost a small amount of waste, “you can dig a hole directly in the ground. Dig a trench 20cm deep and as wide as the amount of waste you want to process. Cover it with straw or black plastic and keep it moist as you would for normal compost.”
What materials are compostable and non-compostable?
“All biodegradable materials can be placed in the compost. The idea is actually to diversify the materials as much as possible so that you don’t have anything superfluous.” Indeed, everything is recycled in the garden: what comes from the earth returns to the earth to protect and nourish the soil. It is often said that you can’t compost citrus. But in reality, these materials simply take longer to decompose. “For example, fungi work very well on these materials, which will eventually break down in any case.” As for animal products (dairy products, meat, fish …), everything can also be put in the compost. But we must be careful because “they are very rich in protein”, which may bring bad smells and at the same time, attract pests. It is advised not to put too much of it and to bury it. “There are indeed materials that take longer to decompose like walnut shells for example, but in the majority of the time, everything ends up crumbling.” Finally, the diversity of waste used makes compost, the best organic fertilizer. On the other hand, one should avoid using elements such as plastic bags, which will tend to “decompose very badly, at least in household compost.” Also, it is not advisable to compost plants that may carry diseases (roses and fruit trees), weeds in seed, diseased fruit, newspaper, which can sometimes, be toxic. In general, avoid materials that are difficult to decompose…
“The diversity of waste used makes compost the best organic fertilizer.
When to know if the compost is ready ?
Be careful, it is important that the compost is “mature” before using it. Compost that is not mature enough can be used at the foot of mature trees… But it is not at all advised to use it in a vegetable garden or on shrubs, it could “burn” your plants. In general, a compost can be mature after 3 to 6 months in spring/summer or 6 to 9 months in autumn/winter if it is well isolated and turned regularly. Some composters even allow for quality compost to be made in as little as 4 to 6 weeks! “It is said to be mature when the compost smells like forest soil, undergrowth, humus and crumbles easily. Also, we realize it when the red worms and insects have deserted the compost. That is, when they consider that there is no longer enough fresh material to work with.”
The compost is done!
Now that the compost has matured, it is time to harvest it and use it! For the lawn, the vegetable garden, the garden, the orchard… You can indeed use the product of your compost as potting soil to improve the soil, protect or feed your plantations. “What is interesting about compost is that it is both an amendment, especially in nitrogen, but also an element that helps structure the soil. It is possible to bring it to the surface of the soil, and the idea is to incorporate it on the first centimeters of the soil with a hook. We can use it at any time of the year: “If the compost is not fully mature, it is better to bring it in the fall, in this sense, it can decompose during the winter … ” It can also be used for different purposes “Compost is also used for transplanting, repotting … Recently at Terre Vivante, we did a test of compost tea consisting of soaking compost, supplementing it with sugar by adding a bubbler (as in an aquarium), to oxygenate the water. The idea was actually to multiply the microorganisms initially found in the compost and bring it to the water to fight cryptogamic diseases.”
Good to know: If you notice a stagnation in your compost, without reaching maturity, do not hesitate to remix it in order to start the process again!
Indeed, to obtain a good quality compost, you will often have to aerate it: thanks to the regular supply of oxygen, the bacterial fauna it contains will benefit from the necessary “fuel” to maintain the decomposition process.
An action facilitated by the use of our tool: the Leborgne naturOvert Aerocompost. Discover it in more detail in our article dedicated to the benefits of aeration of your compost! -> click here !