Organic Compost is decomposed organic matter used as a nutrient-rich soil amendment. It improves soil structure, retains moisture, and promotes healthy plant growth.
In addition to its environmental benefits, organic compost is cost-effective and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. This natural fertilizer can be made from a variety of materials, including kitchen scraps, yard waste, and animal manure.
Whether you are an avid gardener or a commercial farmer, using organic compost is a great way to enhance soil health and support healthy plant growth.
Organic Compost Vs. Synthetic Fertilizers
Organic compost and synthetic fertilizers are two popular options used by gardeners to enhance plant growth and nourish the soil. Understanding the differences between them is crucial for making informed choices that align with your gardening goals and environmental values.
Let’s look at it-
|Aspect||Organic Compost||Synthetic Fertilizers|
|Composition||Natural materials||Industrial processes|
|Waste Reduction||Recycling organic waste||Water pollution|
|Water Pollution||Decreases runoff||Excess nutrients|
|Soil Structure||Enhances resistance||Degrade soil structure|
|Biodiversity Support||Beneficial organisms||Harmful to microorganisms|
|Greenhouse Gas Emissions||–||Increased emissions|
Nutrient Availability And Absorption:
- Releases nutrients slowly over time, providing a steady supply to plants.
- Improves the soil’s ability to retain moisture and nutrients, preventing leaching.
- Increases the presence of beneficial microorganisms that help break down organic matter and release nutrients.
- Enhances the nutrient profile of the soil, contributing to the overall health of plants.
- Rapidly deliver concentrated nutrients to plants.
- Can lead to over-fertilization and nutrient imbalances if not used in appropriate amounts.
- This may result in nutrient leaching, as excess nutrients can wash away with irrigation or rainfall.
- Synthetic fertilizers stimulate plant growth but may not address the overall soil health.
Long-Term Soil Health:
|Aspect||Organic Compost||Synthetic Fertilizers|
|Fertility and Structure Enhancement||Fertility and structure||Chemical imbalances|
|Microbial Activity||Microbial activity||Reduced organic matter|
|Water Retention||Water retention||Regular application|
|Dependency on Inputs||Reduced need for fertilizers||Increased dependency|
What Are The Benefits Of Organic Compost?
Organic compost offers a multitude of benefits, making it an ideal choice for enriching garden soil.
Created from natural materials such as kitchen scraps and yard waste, organic compost improves soil health, enhances plant growth, and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.
Enhancing Soil Health:
- Organic compost improves soil structure, creating a porous and well-aerated environment for plant roots to thrive.
- It enhances the water-holding capacity of soil, reducing the risk of water runoff and soil erosion.
- The presence of organic matter in compost improves soil’s ability to retain moisture, ensuring plants receive consistent hydration.
- Compost contains beneficial microorganisms that assist in breaking down organic matter, promoting better soil fertility.
Promoting Nutrient Retention:
- Compost is rich in essential nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are vital for plant growth.
- These nutrients are released slowly over time, ensuring a steady supply for plants and reducing the risk of nutrient leaching.
- Compost enhances the cation exchange capacity of soil, allowing it to better retain positively charged nutrients.
- The organic matter in compost also acts as a chelating agent, preventing nutrient tie-ups and making them more available to plants.
Suppressing Diseases and Pests:
- Organic compost contains beneficial microorganisms and bacteria that suppress harmful pathogens and diseases.
- These microorganisms outcompete pathogens for resources, minimizing their ability to cause damage.
- Compost can promote the growth of beneficial insects and nematodes that prey on pests, maintaining a natural balance in the ecosystem.
- The presence of organic matter in compost can also physically deter pests, making it less attractive for them to feed on plants.
How To Make Organic Compost?
Organic compost is a natural fertilizing material made from decomposed organic matter such as food scraps, garden waste, and leaves. It enriches the soil with essential nutrients, improves water retention, and promotes healthy plant growth. Learn how to make your own organic compost for a sustainable and eco-friendly gardening practice.
Choosing The Right Ingredients:
To make organic compost, it’s important to select the right ingredients. Here are some key factors to consider when choosing materials for your compost pile:
These include dried leaves, straw, shredded paper, and cardboard. They provide a source of energy for microorganisms and help create the right balance of carbon and nitrogen in your compost.
Kitchen scraps, grass clippings, and fresh plant trimmings are excellent sources of nitrogen. They accelerate the decomposition process and provide essential nutrients for your compost.
Avoid meat, dairy, and oily food waste:
These materials can attract pests and create unpleasant odors in your compost pile. Stick to vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, and tea bags instead.
Moisture is crucial for the decomposition process. Aim for a moisture level similar to a damp sponge. If your compost pile seems too dry, add water; if it’s too wet, add dry carbon-rich materials to balance it out.
Layering The Compost Pile:
Creating layers in your compost pile promotes aeration and helps the materials decompose more efficiently. Here’s the layering process for an effective compost pile:
Start with a layer of twigs or small sticks at the bottom of the pile. This provides airflow, preventing the materials from becoming compacted.
Add a layer of carbon-rich materials, such as dried leaves or shredded paper, about 3-4 inches thick. This serves as the base layer to help with moisture retention and decomposition.
Follow with a layer of nitrogen-rich materials, such as kitchen scraps, grass clippings, or plant trimmings. Again, aim for a layer around 3-4 inches thick.
Continue layering carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials, maintaining an equal ratio. Remember to keep each layer relatively thin to ensure proper decomposition.
Turning And Maintaining The Compost:
To accelerate the decomposition process and maintain a healthy compost pile, it’s essential to turn and maintain it regularly. Here’s what you need to do:
Use a pitchfork or shovel to turn the compost pile every few weeks. This helps aerate the materials, providing oxygen to the microorganisms and speeding up decomposition.
Check the moisture level regularly and adjust as needed. Your compost should be moist like a damp sponge, but not overly saturated or dry. Add water or dry materials accordingly.
Avoid adding diseased plants or weed seeds to your compost pile. High temperatures during decomposition may not kill these organisms, and you risk spreading them when you use the compost in your garden.
Depending on the conditions, your organic compost may be ready to use in as little as three months or up to a year. It should have a dark, crumbly texture and an earthy smell when it’s fully decomposed.
Common Mistakes To Avoid In Composting
Organic composting is a valuable practice, but it’s important to avoid common mistakes. Learn how to steer clear of errors and create high-quality compost for your garden.
Adding Non-Compostable Materials:
- Plastic: Never include any plastic materials in your compost pile. Plastic takes an incredibly long time to decompose and can contaminate the compost with harmful chemicals.
- Meat and Dairy Products: These items can attract unwanted pests and create unpleasant odors. Avoid placing any meat, dairy, or bones in your compost pile.
- Diseased Plants: Including plants that are infected with diseases or pests can spread the problem to other areas of your garden. It’s best to discard them separately or in regular household waste.
Using Chemical Fertilizers With Compost:
Combining chemical fertilizers with compost can disrupt the natural balance of nutrients and microorganisms in the soil.
It is best to avoid using chemical fertilizers altogether or limit their usage to non-composted areas of your garden.
Pesticides and Herbicides:
These chemicals can harm the beneficial organisms present in the compost, as well as the plants that will eventually benefit from it.
Avoid using any products containing pesticides or herbicides in your composting process.
Neglecting Proper Compost Maintenance:
Lack of Turning:
Regularly turning your compost pile allows for proper aeration and helps accelerate decomposition. Neglecting this crucial step can slow down the composting process.
Incorrect Moisture Levels:
Compost needs to maintain a proper moisture balance. Too much moisture can cause unpleasant odors and slow down the decomposition process. On the other hand, if the compost becomes too dry, it will impede the breakdown of organic material.
Layering your compost with a mix of green and brown materials helps create a balanced carbon-to-nitrogen ratio.
Neglecting this aspect can lead to a slow or incomplete breakdown of organic matter.
Troubleshooting Common Compost Problems
Organic compost is a valuable resource for gardeners, providing nutrient-rich soil for plants. Troubleshooting common compost problems helps address issues such as odor, pests, and slow decomposition, ensuring successful and productive composting.
Compost Pile Not Heating Up:
Insufficient Green Materials: Ensure you have enough nitrogen-rich green materials such as grass clippings or kitchen scraps, as they are essential for heat production.
Lack of Moisture: Compost needs to be kept moist, like a damp sponge. If your pile feels dry, add water to provide the appropriate moisture level.
Insufficient Aeration: Regularly turn or aerate your compost pile to improve airflow. This allows oxygen to reach the microorganisms responsible for decomposition, leading to heat generation.
Incorrect Carbon-to-Nitrogen Ratio: Maintain a balance between carbon-rich brown materials (like dried leaves or wood chips) and nitrogen-rich green materials to achieve optimal decomposition and heat production.
Foul Odors in the Compost:
Improperly Balanced Ingredients: Ensure there is a balanced mix of organic waste, including both green and brown materials, to prevent odors. Too much nitrogen can cause a strong smell, so adjust accordingly.
Excess Moisture: If your compost pile becomes too wet, it may emit a foul smell. To resolve this issue, add dry brown materials and turn the pile to increase aeration and promote drying.
Lack of Oxygen: Anaerobic decomposition can result in unpleasant odors. To prevent this, regularly turn or aerate the compost pile to ensure proper oxygen supply.
Inclusion of Inappropriate Materials: Avoid adding meat, dairy products, or oily items to your compost pile, as they can attract pests and cause odor issues. Stick to plant-based materials and vegetable waste.
Dealing with Pests and Rodents:
Secure Compost Bin: Use a covered compost bin or build a sturdy enclosure to prevent access by pests and rodents.
Avoid Attracting Unwanted Visitors: Make sure your compost pile does not contain any pet waste, meat scraps, or oily food waste, as these can attract pests. Stick to vegetable matter, plant trimmings, and yard waste instead.
Layer It: Creating alternating layers of green and brown materials discourages pests and helps control their population.
Bury Food Scraps: Dig a hole in the center of the compost pile and bury any food scraps as they can attract pests. Cover it with additional compost materials to mask the odor.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Organic Compost Made From?
Organic compost is a nutrient-rich soil conditioner created through the decomposition of plant material and organic waste. It’s a natural process where microorganisms break down materials like kitchen scraps, yard clippings, leaves, and other organic matter, transforming them into a valuable resource for enriching soil.
What Is The Difference Between Compost And Organic Compost?
Compost, in general, refers to decomposed organic matter, which can include a wide range of materials. Organic compost, on the other hand, is a more specific term, indicating that the compost is exclusively derived from organic materials.
The key distinction lies in the composition, with organic compost being a subset of compost, emphasizing the use of organic, biodegradable ingredients.
How Do You Make Good Organic Compost?
Creating quality organic compost is a straightforward process that involves several key steps. Begin by collecting organic materials like kitchen scraps, grass clippings, and leaves. These materials should be layered in a compost bin or pile, ensuring a balanced mixture of brown (carbon-rich) and green (nitrogen-rich) components.
Regularly turning the compost helps aerate it, expediting the decomposition process. Maintaining the right moisture level, not too dry or too soggy, is essential. Monitoring the temperature ensures the proper breakdown of materials.
Over several months to a year, your compost will mature into nutrient-rich fertilizer, ready for use in your garden, improving soil structure and plant health.
What Should You Not Put In Organic Compost?
While many organic materials are suitable for composting, certain items should be avoided to maintain a healthy and efficient composting process. These include meat, dairy, cooked food, oils, pet waste, and weeds that have seeds. Excluding these items helps prevent potential issues like odors, pests, and weed growth in your compost.
Organic compost is a nature’s gift for gardeners and farmers alike. Its countless benefits make it an invaluable resource for sustainable and healthy agriculture. By enriching the soil with essential nutrients and improving its structure, organic compost boosts plant growth and yield.
I am a graduate of Bangladesh Agricultural University, where I delved into various agricultural disciplines, equipping me with a profound understanding of agriculture. Beyond academics, I have hands-on experience in gardening and crop cultivation. My passion is to embrace sustainable farming and horticulture. With a BSc in Agriculture, I am dedicated to promoting environmentally conscious and efficient agrarian practices.
Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Agriculture (Hons.)
Master of Science. (Sustainable Agriculture & Food Security ) (MS)
Bangladesh Agricultural University