Dame Nature est une merveille du recyclage ! Lorsque les organismes
meurent (plantes, animaux, insectes, humains, etc.), la nature fait appel
à des milliers d'organismes différents et conçus spécialement pour décomposer
la matière organique et la remettre au service du cycle de la vie.
nutriments, les minéraux et la matière organique sont mangés et digérés
par des vers, des coléoptères, des bactéries et autres micro-organismes
et ensuite déposés dans l'environnement. Le compostage est la façon dont
le jardinier capte tous ces nutriments et toute l'énergie ainsi libérée
pour les retourner dans le sol de nos jardins, et éventuellement dans ce
que l'on y récolte.
article répond aux questions, telles : "Le compost, c'est quoi au
juste ? Pourquoi se donner la peine de composter ?
Où et quand devrait-on composter ?
Comment est-ce que je commence et que je finis ?" ; il
comprend également des conseils en cas de problèmes !
Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator,
Falls Brook Centre
ature is a wonderful recycler!
When organisms die (plants, animals, bugs, people, etc.) nature
enlists thousands of different organisms specially designed to break
down that organic matter and put it back into the cycle of life.
Nutrients, minerals, and organic matter are munched on and
digested by worms, beetles, bacteria, and other microorganisms,
deposited into the environment, and picked up by other organisms that
use them to grow. Composting
is the gardener’s way of capturing all of those nutrients and energy
being released, and directing it back into our garden soil, and
eventually our harvest.
(photo: Andrea Berry)
What is compost?
Compost is the finished
product of the breaking down of garden and kitchen scraps.
It is a wonderfully earthy-smelling, dark substance that looks
like soil but is chock full of nutrients.
Why bother composting?
When your garden grows, it
uses nutrients and minerals from the soil.
When we eat the plants, our bodies are nourished by those
nutrients. In most cases,
however, we do not eat the entire plant and some scraps are left for
the garbage. But wait!
These scraps are worth their weight in gold!
By putting them in a composter, scraps are digested by soil
organisms and turned into a nutrient-rich substance that you can put
back onto your garden, returning those nutrients and minerals,
fertilizing it naturally.
When should you compost?
Composting can be done all
year round–inside and outside! Outside
in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, inside in the Winter using a
vermicomposter (a method using special worms in a container to digest
the scraps). Put the
finished compost on your garden in the Spring before planting.
Composter Vermicomposting bin
Where should you make your
Your compost pile is not
something to be hidden or ashamed of!
Be proud of your composting–you are creating a full-circle
garden system! The ideal
location is a place that is relatively close to where you will be
spreading the finished product (think of moving wheelbarrow loads of
soil–how far do you want to haul them?), and relatively close to
where your compost ingredients are coming from (our compost is mid-way
between the gardens and the kitchen door).
Your pile should be in an open area with good air circulation
and sun exposure, on a soil base with good drainage.
The ideal size of a pile is about 4’ x 4’.
If you are vermicomposting, however, you will need an enclosed
bin for your worms and food scraps, this can be any size that is
convenient for you.
How do I start?
The magic recipe is a balance
of nitrogen (“green”), carbon (“brown”), water, air, and heat.
Pick a spot in your yard that is out of the way, sunny, and
easy to get to. You can
build a bin to contain your scraps (wood pallets, cedar logs, even
plastic snow fence or chicken wire can work), or just make an open
pile. The trick:
your compost materials like lasagna–6” of brown, 6” of green,
6” of brown, 6” of green, etc.
The organisms that digest the compost materials need air and
water -- just like you and
me! – to eat and digest properly.
Make sure that your pile stays moist, like a wrung out sponge;
you may need to put the hose to it during those dry August days.
In order to keep those bugs breathing, ensure that there is
proper air flow through the centre of your pile–add chunky materials
such as sticks with your “brown” layer and/or turn it over with
the pitchfork every few days. The
pile will heat up as the soil organisms digest the food, up to 90 -
160°F! The heat is a sign
that your pile is decomposing properly.
Mixing the pile up every once in a while will speed up the
process, but even a static pile will produce finished compost in about
Don't even try!
plant materials (leaves, roots, stems, vegetables, fruits)
manure from farm animals
(good to encourage faster decomposition)
plant materials (straw, corn or sunflower stalks, sticks)
or paper towels
clothes made of natural fibres (silk, cotton, wool)
big chunks of wood, bones, cardboard
of dogs, cats, people (too many transferable diseases)
plants and weeds
that have set seed (okay if your pile gets hot enough to kill them)
amounts of fat, oil, grease (gives the bugs indigestion!)
scraps can attract animals (including your dog or cat)
How do I finish?
Once you have been building
your pile for a while and it gets to a big size (about 4’ high is
good), stop adding goodies to it.
Give it a final layer of “browns” on the top and let the
worms do the work. As the
pile is digested by the bugs, its height will decrease rapidly.
The finished product will be about 1/2 - 1/3 the size of the
original pile. The key to
determining if the pile is finished: check the heat!
If the pile has cooled down, the bugs have digested all the
food and left behind nutrients and minerals good for your garden.
Start shovelling out your pile and put it directly on your
garden. A good 1” layer
is ideal; just fork it into the ground.
For your veggie gardens, put an extra scoopful on your lettuce,
corn, and squash patches–the “heavy feeders” will appreciate the
extra nutrients. If you
are feeding your indoor plants, first sift your compost through a fine
mesh screen and put the larger chunks back into your next pile to be
further broken down.
So, you have your pile going
and have been adding your leftover lunch and garden goodies for a
while now. But for some
reason, you are not ending up with your “gardener’s gold”.
Here are some helpful hints from Grace Gershuny’s book
“Start with the Soil”:
pile and add high-carbon (“brown”), absorbent materials such as
dry leaves, newspaper, or straw and protect it from the rain.
is dry and materials have not decomposed
pile, thoroughly soaking each layer as it is built; cover with
plastic to retain moisture.
is damp and warm only in middle
amount of material in pile; moisten.
is damp and sweet-smelling but does not heat up
high-nitrogen materials such as fresh manure or green grass
clippings; turn pile.
un-decomposed layers of leaves or grass clippings
up layers with garden fork or put through shredder, then re-layer
out un-decomposed items and use as base for next pile.
Berry is the Agriculture Coordinator at Falls Brook Centre (FBC) in
a non-profit, environmentally-focused community development situated
on 400 acres of farm and forest land, demonstrating the practical
application and implementation of sustainable development.
Appropriate technology application of solar and wind energy,
organic agriculture, community gardening, composting, and recycling
models, as well as 7 km of fully marked forest trails and a strawbale
forest museum bring visitors on a regular basis.
To contact Andrea call 374-4310 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.