Compost is the single most important supplement you can give your garden soil.
Composting is a simple way to add nutrient-rich humus which fuels plant growth and restores vitality to depleted soil. It’s also free, easy to make and good for the environment. http://eartheasy.com/grow_compost.htm
AND by composting you can reduce your landfill input by 30%
How do you get started composting?
1. Most of us start with a composting bin that can be purchased at a hardware store or you
can make a bin. http://extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G6957 Many communities have rules about composting, but if it is covered, purchased from a hardware store, and does not bring in animals you should be legal.
Some start with a pile of leaves and yard waste somewhere in their yard(no enclosure), but don’t add food scraps to these piles unless you want animals digging though your compost.
2. A mix of about 3 to 1 browns to greens is needed to get started. Just using greens gets smelly. Just using browns does work!! You are working to create a reaction between the oxygen, bacteria, heat and moisture.
3. Your compost needs some air, water and heat(nothing you need to add) to generate the correct bacteria. The compost will heat up by itself if it has the correct mix of browns and greens. It is really fun when your pile steams!
Browns or carbon would be:
Dried leaves, straw and dead plants (no seeds or roots), dryer lint, shredded paper, small twigs, paper egg cartons, Kleenex and paper towels.
Green or nitrogen:
Fruit and vegetable waste, green leaves and plants(no seeds or roots), grass clippings and crushed egg shells.
My top 10 tips for composting:
– You need a kitchen container to collect your kitchen scraps. Something you can seal tightly and something you can tolerate sitting on your counter top is best. I am constantly changing my mind about what works for me!
– Stickers on fruits and vegetables don’t break down, be sure you remove them.
– Stir compost once a week. This makes it break down faster and adds oxygen .
– No meat or dairy unless you have curbside organic pick up.
– Smaller pieces break down faster. Shredded leaves and small pieces get the break down going faster
– Water will need to be added, but compost should NOT be sopping wet-More like a moist sponge.
– Adding more compost bins is a great idea after you understand the process, but start with one compost bin. You will like composting so much you’ll probably add another. I have one that is cooking–I don’t add new materials, but do stir. My other bin is for new compost material.
– Seeds are complicated! Keeping seeds out of your compost is impossible, but I would try to keep out seeds from garden waste and plants. Most fruit or vegetable seeds should be fine. However, my finished compost has avocado and mango pits!
– The entire process will take about 9 months, not counting the winter. Stirring (adding oxygen), and keeping moist should produce healthy compost faster.
– The final compost should smell earthy, and be moist. It is ready to use on plants and lawn.
You can always learn something new and improve at composting. Please share composting tips that work for you!
Books:* “Idiots Guide to Composting” by Chris McLaughlin
Link for some other ideas:
This is a great link to help you get started