Living Resources Company
- BUGS Parent Company
Providing organic horticultural services for the greater Sacramento
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
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
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
2) Place a light layer of brush (twigs,
prunings, etc.) over the cultivated soil. This will allow air access into the bottom of
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).
9) 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
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
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.
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.