[Music] Compost is the foundation to a thriving garden. The trouble is, few of us have perfect conditions to make ideal compost every time. In this video, we’ll look at some common compost
problems, and easy ways to solve them. Perfect compost has a fine crumbly
texture, and a pleasant earthy smell like a forest
floor. The original ingredients used to make the compost will no longer be visible, having been transformed into a dark-looking, even consistency. Mature compost is gardener’s gold. Use it to mulch around plants, make potting soils, or to dig into soil to improve its nutrient content and moisture holding capacity. For instructions on how to make good compost by adding the right balance of ingredients click here to view our video on the perfect compost recipe. Few gardeners get composting right every
time. Common problems includes smelly compost
bins, slimy ingredients that have become excessively wet, or compost that has simply stopped rotting
down before it’s ready. The most common problem is excess
moisture, which causes foul odors, flies, and the
production of substances harmful to your plants. Adding too much fresh material over dry
materials is the usual culprit. Fresh material such as vegetable
peelings and grass clippings have a high water content, which makes them heavy. If too much is added to your compost heap at once it can become compacted, excluding air or
filling air spaces with water. These oxygen-starved anaerobic
conditions enable harmful microbes to thrive. If your compost heap is too wet, dig it out completely then turn the ingredients to incorporate more air before re-stacking. Fresh materials are mostly ‘greens’, which have
a high nitrogen content, so mixing in more carbon-rich ‘browns’
will help solve the problem. To do this, add dry materials into the
mix to get a balance of greens and browns, improve drainage, and prevent the compost
from clogging up again. Ingredients such as shredded prunings,
sawdust, straw and cardboard torn into smaller
pieces will create channels within the compost. These channels will allow air to percolate, and excess moisture to drain away. Scrunched-up newspaper makes a good short-term option if you haven’t got enough of these dry ingredients to hand. Grass clippings are often generated in large
batches. Don’t be tempted to add thick layers to the
compost bin just to get rid of them, or they could create a soggy mat. Instead, sprinkle grass clippings in thin layers, and balance them with drier ingredients. If you have too many clippings, lay them as a mulch around fruit trees and
bushes, or between your vegetables where they will slow down weed growth
and lock in soil moisture. Be aware that plastic compost bins let
in less air than open heaps. They require extra care to ensure a balance of
dry to fresh materials. Never stamp or force materials down in
order to fit more in or you run the risk of over-compacting your
compost ingredients and artificially stimulating anaerobic
conditions. Compost is naturally slightly acidic. but sometimes an abundance of some
wetter ingredients or naturally acidic material, such as
citrus fruit, can upset the balance. If you notice your compost heap becoming
smelly and slow to decompose, then excess acidity could be the problem. Counteract this by sprinkling handfuls of ground lime or wood ash into the mix plus plenty of browns if the bin is wet, and other fresh green material if that is lacking. This should re-balance the mix ,and
kick-start the composting process once again. If your compost bin is too dry, it will
simply stop decomposing, as the bacteria and fungi responsible for
the composting process won’t be able to work effectively. Re-wet the heap by watering it, ideally with rainwater. If you don’t
have any stored rainwater, ordinary water will do. Apply it evenly using a
watering can fitted with a rose, mixing the materials at the same time if you can. Bins with too many dry ingredients can be given a boost by adding lots of
fresh material to balance out the ingredients. Dig out the compost bin, add your fresh
materials, then refill the bin. Or, if you have two bins side by side,
mix the extra materials and water as you turn the materials from one bin into the other. Leafmold is a form of compost made
entirely from fallen leaves. Leafmold is an exception to the rule,
because it naturally takes up to 3 years to fully mature before it’s ready to
use. At this time the leaves should no longer be
visible. Mature compost can be sieved into sturdy plastic bags or garbage cans for storage. Any lumps or part-rotted
materials left behind in the sieve may be thrown back into an active compost bin to continue decomposing, helping to transfer beneficial microbes
into the next batch. Compost is an excellent soil
amendment. Apply it directly to beds and borders, fork it in or leave it on the soil
surface as a mulch. This valuable organic matter will work
gradually to improve your soil’s nutrient content and overall structure. The results is healthier plants, and better crops for you. Share your best
composting tips below by leaving a comment, or subscribe to
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