Now that the ideal planting time of spring is nearly here, gardens will need more soil with high nutrients. Compost, in particular, lends itself to this. It is rich in nutrients and minerals and therefore offers everything which plants need in order to thrive. Since compost is a good fertiliser, it is ideal for nuturing young plants.
To achieve compost as quickly as possible, the compost must be turned over at regular intervals. This can be done from August until well into spring. The oxygen supplied when turning over compost encourages decomposition, and it may even be possible to use the freshly obtained earth the very same season.
Turning over compost is actually not a big job. It is best to use a large strainer placed at an angle to the compost heap. Then use a compost fork, such as the new Terraline™ Compost Fork from GARDENA, to mix everything up and sieve through it. Anything remaining in the strainer goes back onto the compost heap. Very little earth will pass through at first. But if you repeat this process several times, you will soon get a nice pile of fresh composted earth.
Whilst turning over compost, make the most of the opportunity to take a closer look at your compost heap. Is it too dry - does it need some water? If it is too moist, the rotten parts should be removed and you can also work in some straw to soak up the excess moisture.
Compost should be turned over every two months. It will then provide soil which can be used for fertilising your garden after six to twelve months. Below is some important advice for dealing with compost.
Create a balanced carbon/nitrogen ratio. This is easily achieved by putting equal proportions of material containing carbon, such as leaves and bush cuttings, and material containing nitrogen, such as grass cuttings, onto the compost heap. Kitchen waste usually has an ideal ratio of carbon to nitrogen, too.
Grass cuttings should be left to dry out for at least two days before being put onto the compost heap. To prevent a strong smell, we recommend putting only thin layers of grass cuttings onto your compost heap. To ensure the correct moisture level in your compost heap, you should perform a fist test at regular intervals. Take a handful of composted earth and press together firmly in your fist. If a few small drops of water run out between your fingers, the compost has the right moisture level. If too much water runs out between your fingers, the compost is too wet. If there is no water at all, you can assume that the compost is too dry.
What should you put on your compost heap?
You can throw leaves, shredded paper, animal manure, fruit and vegetable peelings and other kitchen waste like tea bags or coffee grinds onto your compost heap with a clear conscience at any time. Hair, garden waste and any uncooked organic materials are also fine.
What shouldn't go on your compost heap?
Sprayed peelings of tropical fruits and treated wood or plastics of any kind should not be thrown onto your compost heap. Cigarette butts, bones and ashes from treated or painted wood and coal are also not suitable.
We recommend using a mixture of half compost and half garden soil for flowerpots and window boxes. For woody plants and ornamental shrubs, work about three centimetres of compost into the top layer of soil. Flowerbeds are best maintained by using half compost and half soil when establishing the bed and then placing compost on the surface of the bed and working it in for subsequent re-fertilising.
In conclusion, it remains to be said that compost is of good quality if it has adapted to normal soil temperature and no soil creatures are evident.
Product Information: GARDENA Terraline™ Compost Fork
The Terraline™ Compost Fork is the ideal tool for loosening and transplanting compost materials around the garden. The extra-wide, ergonomically shaped D-handle with soft plastic components is not only extremely comfortable, but provides space for two hands, giving you the extra power required when you’re working in tough soil. With a teardrop-shape, the handle sits well in the hand and the cold-insulating plastic sleeve provides comfortable, non-slip handling. In addition, the optimal angle of the handle to the tines also guarantees ergonomic working practices – reducing stress on the body. The five tines are made from robust, hardened quality steel with high-grade coating for long life – and that’s why GARDENA also offers a 10-year guarantee on the entire Terraline™ range, giving you maximum security and confidence in these products!
RRP effective 1st March 2013 - $39.95