How to make composts

The use of manure, in the shape of compost, or ingredients of various qualities, mixed together in certain proportions, has long been a favorite practice with many farmers: though it is only in particular situations that the practice can be extensively or profitably executed. The ingredients used in these composts are chiefly earth and lime, sometimes dung, where the earth is poor; but lime may be regarded as the main agent of the process, acting as a stimulus for bringing the powers of the heap into action; lime, in this view, may be considered as a kind of yeast, operating upon a heap of earth as yeast does upon flour or meal. It is obvious, therefore, that unless a sufficient quantity is given, the heap may remain unfermented, in which case little benefit will be derived from it as a manure.

The best kind of earth for compost is that of the alluvial sort, which is always of a rich greasy susbstance, often mixed with marl, and in every respect calculated to enrich and invigorate barren soils, especially if they are of a light and open texture. Old yards, deep headlands, and scourings of ditches, offer themselves as the basis of compost-middens; but it is proper to summer-fallow them before hand, so that they may be entirely free of weeds. When the lime is mixed with the soil of these middens, repeated turnings are necessary, that the whole may be suitably fermented, and some care is required to apply the fermented mass at a proper time to the field on which it is to be used.

The benefit of such a compost in nourishing soils is even greater than what is gained by dressing them with dung.

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