Introduction Ask the members whether one of them uses compost in his/her garden. Make him/her explain why and how it is used.

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1 Compost Information for VAG Leaders Preparation: - In this factsheet, the members will learn about compost: what is it? How to make it? What can be composed? - The leader must be sure to bring the materials for the game. Do that in advance! - The VAG leader should read through the factsheet and make sure that he/ she understands the content. Introduction Ask the members whether one of them uses compost in his/her garden. Make him/her explain why and how it is used. What is compost? Compost is a dark, crumbly, and earthy smelling form of decomposing organic matter. Composting is done to produce an organic fertilizer that is balanced in plant nutrients. This organic fertilizer, known as humus, improves soil fertility, moisture retention and soil aeration. Why Should I Make Compost? - Enriches the soil with organic matter and nourishes the soil. - Does that create a soil water heat and nutrient retention. - Makes lighter clay soils and helps sandy soils retain water better. - Does the acidity of the soil to optimum value. - Buffers temperature differences between day and night. - Prevent soil erosion by wind and water. - Protect plants against pests and diseases. Compost improves your soil and the plants growing in it. By using compost you return organic matter to the soil in a usable form. Composting intensifies the process that is already taking place in your topsoil. By adding waste from your garden, kitchen and animals to your compost heap, you can speed up this process. Improving your soil is the first step toward improving the health of your plants. Healthy plants help clean our air and conserve our soil, making our communities healthier places in which to live. GAME: The leader takes some materials with him to the meeting. The question with this game is: What can I add to make compost? YES - Crushed wood and branches - Grass cuttings - Browse - Harvest Residues - Other garden waste - Eggshells - Coffee filters and tea bags - Fruit and vegetable waste

2 NO - Diseased plants - Flowering and seed-bearing plants - Weed - Conifers Waste - Printed paper - Metal or tin - Glass, stone or plastic - Cooked food scraps - Bones and meat - Potato peelings - Citrus peel Anything that was once alive can be composted. Your compost will ideally have times more carbon than nitrogen. Carbon: Leaf materials from the garden, straw, sawdust, shredded paper, wood ash, kitchen waste. Nitrogen: Manure / nettles / comfrey / urine / kitchen waste Where you have a lot of grass and other garden waste, add green composters & manure to get that balance. Yard wastes, such as fallen leaves, grass clippings, weeds and the remains of garden plants, make excellent compost. Woody yard wastes can be clipped and sawed down to a size useful for the wood stove or fi replace or they can be run through a shredder for mulching and path-making.

3 Used as a mulch or for paths, they will eventually decompose and become compost. Care must be taken when composting kitchen scraps. Compost them only by the methods outlined in this brochure. Meat, bones and fatty foods (such as cheese, salad dressing, and leftover cooking oil) should be put in the garbage. Soil fertility: Compost making How do you make compost? There are several ways of making compost. Some ways are described here and how they should be made. Pile method Make the compost heap under a shadow to protect it from direct sun. Put a stick the middle on top of the heap. Check the temperature of the heap ever 2 days by removing the stick and feeling If the stick is too hot to touch turn the heap. Turn the compost every month The compost is ready to use after three months Pit compost Dig three pits of depth 50cm and 150x150cm Cut all materials to small pieces and alternate as above during filling of the pit. Reduce bigger pieces and Deceased materials to ash for the compost. Keep the materials moist but not too wet Shelter the pits from sunlight (avoid water from rains construct a shelter on top if possible) After a month empty the pit into the second pit consecutively refreshing the first pit and respectively the third month. Always store the compost under shade before use.

4 Vermicompost Worms eat the soil and organic mater when they burrow in the ground Worms can eat their own weight of organic in a day and destroy harmful pathogens in the process of passing through their guts. Soil with a lot of worms shows that is very fertile Worm with compost matter can be introduces in unfertile soil and change the place to a very fertile garden place Worms can be kept by farmers to provide very rich compost for the garden The practice of keeping worms for making compost is known as VERMICULTURE Find out the possibility of getting a starting pack of special breed of worm to start you own Vermicomposting. One pit method First get a place where you can dig a pit Dig a pit of 2 meters depth and 2 meters width, And collect things can rot and throw everything in the pit until it is full, Don t bring in any plastic, because it can not rotten Wet this pit for one month, After you see that it is well rotten, you can take the compost out of the pit and use it to fertilize you garden, You can always use the same pit You must prepare this after harvesting in order to have a good time for having enough compost, and preparing a garden, The pit method of making compost conserves moisture, so it is useful in areas with low rainfall and a long dry season. Do not use it in wet areas, as the compost may become waterlogged. Using compost Well-decomposed compost should be applied at the rate of 20 t/ha (8 t/acre): about two large hoefuls per square meter, or enough to barely cover the ground with a layer 1 cm (0.4 inch) thick. For potatoes, use 1 tin (about 20 kg) for about 2 m (6 feet) of furrow. In double-dug beds (see the section on Deep soil preparation), apply 3 wheelbarrows of compost on 10 m 2 (100 square feet) of beds. Do s and Don ts Avoid Adding: Bones, sticks & twigs, citrus & potato peels Eucalyptus (gum) leaves in any form of compost. Rotten cooked food which doesn t decompose properly Seeded weeds ie: blackjacks Dog and cat manure which pass on diseases.

5 Do: Make a special heap for hard wood leaves (ie: oak, pine) which will take up to a year but provide great leaf mould, which is a good mulch. Turn regularly the more the better Disadvantages Advantages Compost requires a lot of labour to prepare and spread it over the farm. The nutrient composition of the compost varies a great deal. It depends on the materials used and the preparation methods (see Using organic matter). Not enough vegetation to make compost may be available in drier areas. Large amounts of vegetation, such as crop remains, garden weeds, kitchen and household wastes, hedge cuttings, garbage, etc, are put to use. When properly made, compost becomes immediately available as plant food without the need to be first broken down by soil microorganisms. Compost does not cause excessive weed growth, as is the case with ordinary farm manure. Good crops can be obtained without the need for extra chemical inputs. All farmers, regardless of their financial abilities, can make and use compost.

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