Composting is an excellent way to destroy most crop and weed residues around the garden and landscape
and to control pests that may harbor in the residues. The compost may then be used as a mulch or
incorporated into soil to add to organic matter. Composting must be done correctly to assure the
destruction of many serious plant pathogens and weed seeds. If followed correctly, the composting
method will control all insect pests, nematodes, most pathogens with the exception of heat-tolerant
viruses such as tobacco mosaic virus, and most weeds and weed seeds with the exception of oxalis,
bulbs, burclover seeds, amaranthus seeds, and cheeseweed seeds.
Requirements for adequate decomposition
- Woody material should be chopped to .5- to 1.5-inch
- A mixture of equal volumes of green plant and dry
plant material will normally achieve a proper carbon-to-nitrogen
ratio of 30 to 1.
- Do not put soil, ashes from a stove or fireplace,
milk or meat products, or manure from meat-eating animals
in the compost.
- A pile should be in bins at least 36 by 36 by 36
inches to assure adequate heating. Maintain a temperature
of 160° F, turn the pile every 1 to 2 days, and
add nothing to it once the composting process has begun.
If temperatures do not get up to 160° F within
1 or 2 days, the pile is too wet or dry . If too dry,
add water. If not enough nitrogen, add green material.
- A healthy compost will have a pleasant odor, give
off heat as vapor when turned, have a white fungal
growth on the decomposing material, will get smaller
each day, and change color to dark brown. When no further
heat is produced the compost is ready to use.