Updated: Apr 4
Homemade compost is by far the best thing you can make to improve your soil. Many gardeners will tell you some basic rules and I have discussed types of composting and many tips in my previous blog How to make best compost 101
In this blog however I want to address the most common misconceptions and myths about composting:
Yes! you can compost weeds. You can actually compost anything organic, the only difference is the length of time it takes to decompose (soft green material fastest, woody material longest).
When gardeners say you should not compost weeds, they are mostly worried about weeds surviving the composting process. This could not be further from truth, weeds simply won`t survive the composting. I have successfully composted even the dreaded bind weeds and dandelions. Simply by exclusion of the light and turning (disturbing) the compost even the toughest of weed will be killed and if your compost is hot enough the weed seeds will be composted too.
Charles Dowding also talks about successful composting of weeds in his videos but if you are not 100% convinced you can leave the weeds to dry out before you put them on compost heap, but there is really no need to do that.
2. Diseased plants
Another common myth is that you should not put any diseased plants on compost i.e. leaves affected by mildew or blight. This is also not true for simple reason that blight is air born disease not soil disease, if the weather conditions are right there is a chance it will spread to your plants but by air not from the soil. Any plant disease needs a living plant tissue so they will simply die in the compost.
The best prevention is to grow plants organically and have healthy soil so the plants will be stronger and more resilient to disease and pest attacks. Albert Howard in his book The Soil and Health: A Study of Organic Agriculture wrote extensively about his studies and trials on organic agriculture, in one such study he report on composting diseased plant material that was used to mulch the next years crop without the disease affecting the crop. What's more in another study he was able to cure plants affected by virus simply by restoring the health of the soil with organic growing principles and that was over 100 year ago!
3. Composting is hard
This is also a myth. You can make compost simply by piling any organic material and it will decompose by you doing nothing whatsoever, the natural processes are ever present. But by following few tips you can speed up the process and greatly improve the quality of end result.
4. Compost attract Rats
Whether you like it or not, there are rats living within proximity of humans no matter if you have compost or not. You might have compost without rats and rats without compost. But if you will avoid making compost because of fear of rats, you will be missing out on single most effective way to make your soil and plants healthy and stop food waste at the same time. It`s not food waste if the nutrients are recycled and returned into soil and not incinerated or dumped to landfill.
You can minimize the chances of rats getting into compost by using sturdy enclosed structure, tumble or hot bins. You can also try wormery.
So next time someone tells you that you can`t compost this or that, simply share your experience or this article :)
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