The term livestock means four legged animals to most
people, but some of the most useful animals are invisible to the casual
observer. These are bacteria, which breakdown plant and animal
wastes into plant food. which is compost.
Compost is the material of choice for building healthy productive
soil. When properly produced it is absolutely safe to handle and
apply to plants.
A wide variety of materials can be processed by bacteria to produce
compost. Some of the most easily available are hay, sawdust, household
vegetable scraps,animal manure, and weeds. Almost any vegetable
material that is bulky enough to aerate will do. Woody materials
will break down more quickly if they are chopped or shredded.
In order to manage the compost heap, you need to
keep the bacteriaís
requirements in mind. The colony needs food, oxygen, and moisture,
to increase itís population size and therefore accelerate decomposition.
When beginning a new heap or adding to an old one, incorporate good garden
soil or active compost from another heap to inoculate the new material
Maintaining the proper moisture level is critical. If there
is too much water, the pile will go anaerobic and begin to smell. You
will lose important nutrients in the runoff fro your pile. If you
don't supply enough water, the bacteria will die and the composting process
will stop. So, keep you compost pile moist but not waterlogged.
If you add kitchen scraps to your pile, bury them deeply and immediately
or you will have a rat colony as well as a bacterial colony. Do
not use meat scraps.
After the pile begins to break down, it will shrink in size and
heat up inside. Every month, aerate the pile by turning it with
a front end loader or manure fork. When the pile cools inside and
looks like black soil, it is ready to put on the garden.