Benefits of compost
When I started gardening and growing my own vegetables the idea of composting grass clippings was laughable to me. I was the type of person who believed that the best fertilizers and nutrients came out of a bottle with a brand name stamped on the side of it. Over the years I've learnt I was wrong.
Composted grass clippings make a great nutrient rich fertilizer that is high in nitrogen and will knock the socks off any bottled fertilizer on the market. But like anything you do, there is a right way and a wrong way. Below I describe the way I compost grass down into a lovely fertilizer that will enrich and condition your soil, thus giving you vegetables and fruit you'll proud of.
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Something To Take Into Consideration
When you first cut your grass, there will naturally be a lot of moisture in the clippings so, you will want to let the grass dry out for a while before adding them to your compost pile. Doing this make's sure you avoid souring and ruining your potentially nitrogen rich fertilizer. All you need to do is spread the grass clipping out on a flat surface, for a few days and let it dry
The reason for drying the grass and not just throwing it on the compost pile is, moist grass has a tendency to stick together in clumps and this inhibits the flow of oxygen in and around your compost pile, the grass is likely to develop a white mold and give of a smell of ammonia. But by leaving the grass to dry out first this problem wont occur.
How To Compost Your Grass Clippings
On the bottom of your pile you want to put a layer of carbon type materials often refered to as "Browns" this includes materials such as shredded newspaper, leaves, wood chips and sticks. The idea of using browns is apart from adding more nutrients to your compost, it enables the free flow of oxygen through the entire compost pile. This works best when done in layers,
- First a layer of browns then a
- Layer of grass clippings
- And so on.
When composting grass clippings its important to aerate your heap regularly by turning the pile with a garden fork, at least once a fortnight but weekly is better.
If you have recently treated your lawn with pesticides or herbicides, its best not to add the clippings to your compost pile for at least a couple of weeks to flush the chemicals out by the rain.
One way to help in the process of speeding up decomposing process of your compost pile is to add some lime to it this will also help prevent any mold forming and stop any potential nasty smells.
On a cool morning you will be able to see steam rising of your compost pile. The steam rising shows the exothermic bacterial action in the compost as the bacteria is hard at work break down the plant material. Enlarge the picture on the right for an example of this exothermic action
Another Use For Your Clippings
And Save A Bit Of Cash In The Process
We're charged by weight to have our refuse removed where I live. So for me any little thing I can do to recycle and cut down these costs is a worthwhile endeavour. Instead of paying to have my grass cuttings removed along with the rest of my house hold rubbish, or just letting a mound of decaying grass build up I like recycle it.
Apart from using my grass clippings to make some fantastic compost, I also use it to fertilize my lawn, just by removing the grass collection box of my mower and letting the clippings lay where they fall when I cut my grass, I'm fertilizing my lawn which also saves me money on feeding and conditioning the lawn.
Compost comes in many forms. Such as good old composted grass clippings to chicken manure compost, and there is even a method for safely composting dog waste to use on your flowers and shrubs and by utilising these various methods we can grow better and healthier food. I also find it strangely satisfying seeing something that's a waste product become something of important use again. Happy composting.
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