Compost For Pest Control

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Composting is nothing new. Historical records indicate the ancient Romans, Greeks & the Tribes of Israel all composted organic matter. Become part of history and begin composting organic waste materials into high quality free fertilizer for your lawn, landscape, garden, and house plants.

The benefits of composting are numerous. Following the incorporation of compost, soil tilth, aeration, nutrient availability and water penetration are all improved. Roots absorb water and nutrients more readily, helping plants grow healthier. Beneficial soil organisms are stimulated to help plants uptake nutrients and fight off pests. Soil erosion and evaporation are both reduced. Recent studies indicate that spraying compost tea on plant foliage has some pesticidal qualities.

Compost piles or heaps should be constructed to create a favorable environment for the gazzillion beneficial microorganisms (phages, viruses, bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, algae, protozoa, nematodes, insects, and earthworms) that will turn your organic waste into top quality fertilizer. Design your composting system to allow for good air circulation, and the proper moisture and nutrient content by utilizing the appropriate ingredients. The following recipe will help you create an efficient composting system.

The "Sandwich" method is perhaps the easiest technique to make quality compost.

1) Begin by cultivating the soil where you plan on constructing your compost pile. This will assist members of your "waste recycling team" to move more readily into your compost pile (from their home in the soil).

2) Place a light layer of brush (twigs, prunings, etc.) over the cultivated soil. This will allow air access into the bottom of the heap.

3) Sandwich construction begins with a six inch layer of green matter (leaves, weeds, crop wastes, kitchen scraps, grass clippings).

4) Two inches of manure (the fresher the better) from vegetarian animals (horses, cows, poultry).

5) Spice up the pile with a sprinkling of garden soil and organic fertilizers. It is very helpful to add some old compost when available. This will add decomposers and vitamins to your heap.

6) The last layer is water, which should be applied until the moisture content is that of a squeezed out sponge. Too much or too little water will dramatically affect how well your compost pile functions and smells.

7) Repeat these layers of green matter, manure, soil, and water until you have used up all of your raw materials or achieved a pile five feet high.

8) When possible it is best to turn the pile one and two months after construction. Move the material that was on the outside into the center of the pile and what was in the center move to the outside. Check the moisture of the heap and if necessary add water as you reconstruct the pile (again, trying to achieve the moisture content of a squeezed out sponge).

Compost Pile9) Three months after pile construction, the compost should be ready to use. If you desire a compost of finer particle size, simply allow it to compost longer.

Piles should not be higher or wider than 5 feet, but can be as long as you need. Minimum size should be 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet. Anything smaller provides insufficient insulation, preventing the build up of enough heat to destroy pests (weeds, insects, and diseases) that may be in the raw materials.

Manure may be difficult to obtain for some composters and the following is an alternative sandwich technique.

1) Cultivate soil and lay down brush as above.

2) Apply 2 inches of dry vegetation (dry weeds, leaves, straw, grass clippings, hay, and/or old garden wastes).

3) Apply 2 inches of green vegetation and kitchen wastes (fresh weeds, grass clippings, hedge trimmings, etc.).

4) Apply a dusting of soil/compost (as above).

5) Add moisture if necessary (as above).

6) Repeat steps 2 through 5 until pile is 3 to 5 feet high.

7) Turn monthly (as above).

8) Ready to use in 3 months.

Compost Utilization

There are several ways you can use finished compost: Make a compost tea and feed your plants when you irrigate with it. Compost teas when applied to plant leaves make plants more pest resistant. Mix it into the top 4 inches of soil one month before planting your garden. Place compost in the bottom of furrows/hole before planting seeds or transplants. Apply it as a mulch around existing plants. Use screened compost as a topdressing to your lawn, following aeration.