Like expert cooks, compost enthusiasts share secret recipes with one another, speaking in hushed whispers about blending this carbon-rich material with that activator to create a particular specialty compost. Pay attention to ratios of basic ingredients required in most compost recipes—oxygen, moisture, carbon materials and nitrogen materials—and you’ll soon be on your way to creating your own high-end compost blends.
Basic Yard Waste Compost Recipe
If you’ve ever just wanted to have a simple, basic recipe that you can use to get rid of all the grass clippings and dead leaves littering your back yard, this is the recipe for you. According to the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension, this recipe is the easiest way for you to convert yard scraps into nutrient-dense humus.
Collect your yard waste as it becomes available, trying to maintain an even ratio of dried, brown waste (such as dead leaves and dried grass) and moist, green waste (such as fresh grass clippings and weeds). Shred your yard scraps into small pieces, build them into a pile and dampen the pile with water until your materials are about as moist as a wrung-out sponge. Add extra yard waste when it becomes available, aerating your compost heap when you do so. Finished compost should start appearing within four to 12 months.
Manure Compost Recipe
Farmers have manure—a lot of it—and they’re usually looking for a way to get rid of it. If you raise a small herd of livestock or know a farmer or rancher with plenty of animal manure, then following this manure-based compost recipe will produce scads of rich compost. According to Barbara Pleasant, co-author of “The Complete Compost Gardening Guide,” this compost recipe is a proven way to produce hot compost—fast.
Collect equal amounts of fresh cow or horse manure, old hay and straw. If your manure source beds his livestock on sawdust or straw, then you can typically use the mix of bedding manure to provide up to two-thirds of your manure compost ingredients, using old hay to provide the remaining one-third of your compost pile volume. Mix the materials in alternating 2- to 3-inch layers, creating a compost pile that measures at least 3 feet by 3 feet. Turn the compost every other day to maintain high rates of microbial activity, which generates heat in your compost heap.
Compost Tea Recipe
Gardeners stuck on the ease of adding chemical-based liquid fertilizer to enrich their plants find that compost tea works just as well at providing plants with a quick shot of nutrients. Walter Chandoha, author of “100 Garden Tips and Timesavers,” states that this liquid compost tea works particularly well for watering newly planted seeds, houseplants and vegetables in container gardens.
Sprinkle enough finished compost in the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket to fill the bottom one-third of it with the crumbly material. Pour enough water on top of the compost to fill the bucket completely. Leave the bucket alone for at least two days, stirring the material every few hours to help dissipate the nutrients into the liquid. Strain out the compost grains and add another 2 gallons of water before using the compost tea on your plants.