How to make your own compost
Being able to make your own compost is one of the most important parts of organic farming. The reason is that the success of organic farming hinges on you adding organic matter to your soil on a regular basis in order to constantly replace nutrients keeping the soil fertile and alive. This is the reason why you do not need to add chemical fertilisers to the soil as the organic matter that you add contains all the nutrients that the plants need to grow well.
This organic matter comes in the form of compost and manure. Compost is broken down plant and vegetable matter and manure refers to broken down animal faeces which are also rich in nutrients. It will cost you a not so small fortune to buy all the compost and manure that you will need in order to keep replenishing your organic soil, and being a farmer you will have access to all you need in order to make a compost heap to serve your purposes at absolutely no cost. You are not able to just add your plant and vegetable off-cuts directly into your soil as they will do more harm than good by taking nitrogen away from your plants as they decompose so the material has to be broken down (or composted) before you add it to your soil. This process is carried out by bacteria which break down the plant and vegetable material into rich, fertile compost.
Building a compost heap:
You can build your own compost container from just about anything – wooden planks, plastic compost bin, plastic barrel or wire container. In fact, you don’t actually need a container for the process to work, my grandfather still composts in a hole in the ground – but without a container the compost will not rot right up to the edges of the heap. It is also best to have at least 2 compost heaps so that you can use the compost from the one while the other is still decomposing and then swop around when the second heap is ready.
Layer your organic material in the compost heap, mixing different plant cuttings and textures together. Straw, grass cuttings, old leaves, kitchen scraps, twigs and sticks are all good material for the compost heap. The composting process takes a long time. While you wait it is important to turn your compost heap every few weeks in order to make sure that there is oxygen in the pile which the bacteria need for the break down process.
Animal manure is some of the best sources of organic matter that the organic farmer can use to improve the quality of the soil. Any type of manure, cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig or chicken is excellent to add to your compost heap as an activator and strong source of nutrients. Mix it in with the other organic matter in the heap as it should not be added directly to the soil as the acidity levels are too high and it will burn young plants.