Ed Bruske explains the benefits of composting, and air and water in garden compost
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Hi, I am Ed Bruske with D.C. Urban Gardeners. We’re here in my garden in the District of Columbia talking about composting. What you just saw, you might think that looks a little bit silly, a man out watering his compost heap, but if you remember we talked about where compost comes from and how it’s made. It’s made by little micro organisms, billions of them, in billions, a whole ecosystem of small creatures that live in the compost pile and they eat the organic matter in the compost pile and turn it into compost. Well, like all other living creatures, they need two things to survive, air and water. So, what we want to do is keep this compost a little bit moist, watering here from the top occasionally and it will get some rain that will filter down through the compost and while you’re building your compost pile, you can also give it some water at different stages, different levels, so that there’s water in the compost pile. Now, if things get too wet, then you get what I referred to earlier as anaerobic bacteria, organisms that don't like air, but love water and that’s what gives you that garbage smell, that putrefaction that you don't want to have. So about the ideal amount of water in your compost heap, compost has the feel of a rung out sponge, in other words sort of a Goldilocks, not too much water and not too little water, just the right amount. The second thing as I mentioned before, these creatures need, the decomposers is air and that’s why we turn our compost heap or tumble a compost heap. I showed you earlier either a spade, fork spade or a pitchfork to turn that compost or a shovel and that is to inject air into your compost heap, so that those creatures can breathe. They don’t die and it kind of stokes the bacteria like stoking a fire, so they really get active and turn that material into compost faster. In these days if you don’t have a compost pile like this one, you can buy a manufactured tumbler that you crank, it will tumble either horizontally or vertically, and it’s a same sort of system. Turning the compost to make sure that all those organisms have air at all time, so they do not die and turn your pile into a smelling mess. The next thing I am going to be talking about is the difference between a hot compost pile and a cold compost pile.