As gardeners, we have been advised and have advised everyone in our circle to use compost. Compost as we know it is the best way to get rid of kitchen scraps. When preparing compost, we can be rest assured that nothing will go to waste and it is true wealth created from waste. These decomposed remains of organic materials contain essential nutrients needs for plants to thrive. It also improves the quality of the soil. This article, therefore, focuses on the best compost for a vegetable garden.
In most cases, there isn’t a possibility of adding too much compost to the soil. when planting vegetables the more you feed the field the better the yield.
If possible, try to spread at least an inch of compost across the planting bed during spring. This will improve the quality of the soil. the second layer can be added right after harvest to restore lost nutrients.
If you can manage to add a two-inch layer at both times it’s great. You could also throw in compost while transplanting veggies or scatter a little around plants as they grow. This will give plants a nutrient boost and help them grow better.
Which is the best compost for a vegetable garden?
Technically speaking the best compost is the one that has had the chance to age well. aged compost is generally blackish-brown in color. This compost is moist, crumbly, and has a uniform texture. The best way to know if your compost is ready is by looking at the vegetable matter in it. when the compost has matured, vegetable matter is unrecognizable.
Compost at both stages is beneficial to plants. The one that is completely decomposed contains nutrients called humus. The nutrients present in humus are drawn by leaf transpiration. It goes in through the roots and reaches every part of the plant nourishing it.
The semi decomposed compost, on the other hand, is good to fee earthworms and other bacteria in the soil. These in a way exude nutrients in turn benefiting the plant.
Where do you find the best compost for vegetable growth?
Compost can be easily made at home. All you need to do is either invest in a compost bin or dig a hole in your backyard. After you have a spot to prepare compost, all you need to do is feed the pit or bin with compostable material including kitchen scraps, leaves, twigs, etc. water it and leave it there. After a few weeks, you will have compost ready to use.
If you do not wish to make your own compost. You can buy compost baggies from the local garden center.
Check out, Protect Your Vegetable Garden From Heavy Rains.
What is the best organic compost for a vegetable garden?
Whether you are growing turnips or tomatoes, cucumbers, or carrots having the required nutrients in the soil is the most important. This not only increases the quality of the vegetables produced but also helps in improving the quality of the soil.
The best organic compost for vegetables is the one that is made using household scraps. There a number of ways in which you can achieve great compost without really spending much.
Here is all you need to know about compost, the different types available, and how it’s done. This section will help determine which is the best compost for vegetable gardens.
How to make compost for a vegetable garden?
There are two ways in which compost is made it is either aerobic or anaerobic. In aerobic composting air is allowed to accelerate decomposition. On the other hand, anaerobic composting follows the same process but excludes air.
Aerobic composting is done via rapid decomposition. This is done by digging a pit of about 4 to 5 feet high and wide in the garden by using a commercial composting bin. Once you have the bin layer garden and kitchen waste. Layers are done by alternating green and brown waste.
Alternate woody, carbon-rich material (browns), and lush, leafy nitrogen-rich material (greens). This will give you the perfect nutritive balance required for compost. Ideally, a layer will be about 6 inches high.
Once the pile is ready let it sit there without being covered. The idea is to let the compost decompose on its own. while aerobic composting you will need to turn the file so that fresh oxygen is introduced. The ideal temperature for the center of the pile is about 140 to 158 degrees as it is perfect for decomposition. Turning can be done by externally mixing it around or by breaking and rebuilding the layers all together.
In this method, all you need to do is follow the same process as aerobic composting. the size of the pit remains 4 to 5 feet deep and so does the layering process. In this method, the old thing that differs is the method used for decomposition.
Organic material is piled up or held in a box and lightly sprinkled with water. you then cover the pile with a tarp or heavy-duty plastic. This way the oxygen supply is cut off and the matter is left to decompose. This process will take about 9 months depending on the weather conditions. The sunnier the place the faster the decomposition.
Best bagged compost for a vegetable garden
The type of compost you buy depends on the vegetable you are planting. It also depends on the type of soil that you have in your garden and the type the vegetables require to grow. The reason store-bought composts are popular is that these have specific components and you can have combinations that suit your requirements.
When buying compost that is commercially available you will need to look for brands that contain high levels of organic matter. Organic Vegetable compost for example contains considerably high amounts of organic matter and is suitable for vegetables.
Most brands will have a combination of nutrients, these multi-purpose variants are well suited for all types of fruits and vegetables. we suggest going in for brands that cater to specifics like fruits or vegetables.
This way you are sure to receive the right components for your vegetable garden. So, in a nutshell, the best ‘bagged compost’ for vegetable gardens are the ones that are marketed for vegetables. These will not only increase the nutritive value of the soil but will also balance the PH and keep it healthy.
What are the types of compost for vegetable gardens?
Composting is a technique and there are a number of things associated with it. you will need to know what goes in the compost pit and what not. You will also need to know that there are two major types i.e. hot and cold.
In this section, we aim at differentiating between the two and giving you a brief about what goes into a compost pit and what doesn’t.
In short, cold composting is simply collecting waste from the yard or taking organic waste from your kitchen, corralling them in a pile or a compost bin, and letting the material decompose over time. This is the easiest and most doable method for all households that plan on composting.
Hot composting on the other hand will require a bit of effort. In this, you will need to take an active part in the composting process which makes it a little time-consuming. This is a faster process and you’ll get compost in about 2 to 3 months when the weather conditions are warmer. This type of composting requires 4 active ingredients nitrogen, carbon, air, and water. These elements together feed the microorganisms and speed up the decay process.
During spring and fall, you will have a lot of garden waste. This is a good time to start a second pile while the first one decomposes.
Another method is by incorporating worms. This is better known as vermicompost where worms eat food scraps and release worm casting. These are rich in nitrogen and good for vegetables that require large amounts of nitrogen to grow. You can use any worms available but most gardeners prefer red worms or red wiggles. These are available locally as well as over the internet on eCommerce sites. They are practically inexpensive and are easily available.
How to make hot compost for a vegetable garden?
While using the hot composting method to prepare compost for your vegetable garden there are 4 steps you need to follow:
#1 use a combination of green and brown material
The best compost comprises of bot green and brown material. This not only balances the nutritive and PH values of the compost but also ensures the right texture and consistency. You will need material from your garden and kitchen that will fill up a 3 to 5 feet deep pit. All you need to do is combine dry waste (Brown material) like dried grass, twigs, leaves, paper, and wet waste ( green material) like kitchen scraps and wet waste from the garden.
There are two methods in which these ingredients are added first is in a 50-50 proportion. Here you have 50% brown matter as to 50% green matter. You can also add a 1:3 ratio of green to brown matter. Both of these methods work well. you can add brown or green matter to the compost pit depending on the consistency.
#2 watering the pile is the most important
Compost is nothing but decomposed material. Hence, it is important to water the pit. This will help the matter decompose faster. Watering does not mean you drown the pit. All you need to do is sprinkle water over the pile in a manner that it remains moist. A dry pit will not decompose. If you add too much water the microorganisms will drown. This will cause the pile to rot, making it unfit to use as compost.
You will need to keep a check on the temperature of the pit. Either use a thermometer or stick your hand in the pit. You are looking for a warm center. This means that the composting pross is on track.
#3 Stir the pile
While composting it is important to keep the supply of oxygen in the pit. This helps the microbes decompose the matter faster. It will also allow the new material to be moved to the bottom reducing odor. Simply use a garden fork and move the pile around.
#4 Knowing when to use the compost
The final step in making or cooking compost is knowing when to use it. when compost is cooking the temperature at the center of the pit is high. Once you feel that the pile has started to dry out, is brown and crumbly it’s fully cooked and ready to use. you can then use about 4 to 6 inches of compost to your vegetable garden at the start of the sowing season. you can also sprinkle a little during the growing period and finally a generous helping after harvesting.
Another way to use compost is by preparing compost tea.
For this, you need compost that is ready to use. the compost is then left in water for a couple of days. This process is known as ‘steeping’. You can then strain and use the water as a homemade liquid fertilizer.
Tip: To make compost faster use smaller bits of green and brown material. This will speed up decomposition.
What to add for best compost for a vegetable garden?
Composting is a great way to ensure that you use leftovers from the kitchen as well as waste from the garden. The easiest way is to have a compost bin in the kitchen. This allows you to use kitchen waste without going the extra mile and putting it into the compost pit.
These bins are available over eCommerce websites as well as locally. You can either but one or you could upscale a container you have at home.
A compost bin or pile generally comprises of the following:
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
- Coffee grounds
- Eggshells – these take a little time to breakdown
- Grass, plant clippings, dry leaves or finely chopped wood or chips
- Shredded newspaper and other paper
- Sawdust from untreated wood
- Stale bread
A compost pile basically comprises kitchen and garden waste. While preparing compost be careful about keeping the pile moist. Do not let the pile dry out as this will hinder the composting process. Your pile should consist of 50% greens including grass cuttings, fruit and vegetable scraps, and 50% brown material including dried leaves, cardboard boxes, etc.
Tip: If your pit is too wet and slushy add more brown matter and if its too dry add green matter. This will help you balance your compost consistency.
What not to add in a compost pit for vegetable garden?
While compost experts say you can add kitchen waste to the compost pit. But like everything there are limitations to want can be added to the pit. The first major no no to a compost pit is meat, bones, fat, and dairy products. These materials do not decompose easily, they will also attract insects and vermin. It will also cause a lot of foul smell. The second batch of products to exclude from the pit is citrus peels, onions, and garlic.
These materials repel earthworms which are a vital part of the composting process.
You also need to exclude
- Anything containing oil, fat, or grease
- Plant cuttings from those that have a disease or fungus
- Sawdust or chips from pressure-treated wood
- Dog or cat or other animal feces
- Dairy products
Excluding these materials from the composting pit will make the process easier. It will also ensure that the composting process is carried out smoothly and ready to use as soon as possible.
Now that we have a fair idea of what to add and exclude from a compost pile. We can better the process by using steps that other vegetable gardeners swear by. These steps will ensure that the process is complete and the compost is ready to use in no time.
These four steps make the best compost for vegetable gardens.
#1 Start with a pit big enough for the garden. Most gardeners would dig a pit that is anywhere from 3 to 5 feet. This change depending on the extent of the garden. The last thing you want is a compost that is not used. Be sure not to use material from diseased plants or those that have been sprayed with pesticides.
#2 after layering the green and brown material spread a layer of fertilizer on the pile. The nitrogen in the fertilizer will help activate the microorganisms. This speeds up decay. You can add about half a cup of ground limestone as most microorganisms lobe their environment sweet. Then add a few shovelfuls of garden soil. the garden soil provides a starter colony for microorganisms.
#3 watering the pile is the most important as keeping the pile moist help microorganisms work their magic faster. Keep the pile at a consistency of a squeezed sponge. Keep adding waste to the pile as the bottom layer sinks in. repeat the fertilizer, lime and soil layers.
#4 flip the layers about once a week using a garden fork. This helps keep the components of the pit evenly distributed and warm. As the temperature in the pile increases the week seeds and harmful disease pathogens are killed.
There are a number of questions that flood the internet regarding composting, the process and usage. In this section, we have put together a few questions.
Can you use compost in grow bags?
Grow bags and planters are a great option if you do not have space for a full-fledged garden. It not only reduces the amount of space used but is also a good option when it comes to segregating vegetables. on the other hand, you will also end up using less compost.
Simply choose bags or plants that are big enough for the roots of the plants to grow well. the amount of compost used will depend on the size of the bag or planter and the vegetable you are growing in them.
Will manure help my crops?
The simple answer to this is Yes. Just as animals need food to grow so do plants, manure/ compost acts as plant food. The nutrient-rich minerals help plants grow well especially vegetables. use compost that has a crumbly texture.
If you use one that is soggy it will do more harm than good. It will also spread diseases to the plant. compost needs to have a soil-like texture. Only then can you vouch for it being good. If not, do not use it on your vegetable patch.
How to apply compost to my vegetable patch?
To understand the application process, it is important to understand that compost needs to be added at least twice. Once when you are preparing the soil to sow the seeds or transplanting saplings and after you harvest the crop. At both times it is important to first test the soil for the PH level as well as the nutritive value. These kits are available at local stores as well as over the internet.
You will also need to take into consideration the vegetable you are planning to plant. some vegetable strip off the soil of more nutrients as compared to others.
To apply all you need to do is spread a layer of compost on the soil and let it stay. Water the soil regularly and in about a day it will be ready for use. you could also mix the compost with gardening soil and add a layer to your patch to speed up the process.
You can also sprinkle compost over your vegetable patch as the plants grow and mature. This will give them an extra boost.
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In conclusion, we can say that every gardener has their own process and the way they compost. The methods and the process may differ but the core usage and benefits remain the same. The best way is to try out different methods and see what works best for you. You can either use the hot or the cold method the choice is entirely yours.
No matter what method you choose there are always benefits associated with using compost. It not only helps put to use kitchen scraps and garden waste but also increases the quality of the soil your vegetables are planted in. All you need are scraps a pit or compost bin and a little patience. So instead of buying the best compost for a vegetable garden, consider making your own.
I am Elsa, love gardening. I spent lots of time with plants, flowers, it gives me lots of happiness.
I am sharing all the practical tips on how to grow various plants, flower plants, vegetables in the garden. Read more about me.