Do you want to take your garden from drab to fab.?
We all do! No matter if you are a beginning gardener, or your teaching master gardening classes to the rest of us, we all nervously wring our hands in the middle of a summer drought, and throw tantrums when garden pests have won yet another battle in our never ending war against them. But, there is one tried and tested way to drastically improve the likelihood of garden awesomeness. Composting!
Compost is my #1 tip for a beautiful garden with bountiful produce! It’s called black gold for gardeners!
So, what exactly is compost?
Compost is a combination of various decaying organic material, such as grass/hay, leaves, decaying food waste & animal or fish carcasses (be careful as to where you are composting, as these ingredients can attract pests) and dead plants. If left to her own devices, Mother Nature produces compost from these materials over many years. We can do it at home over weeks and months!
What you can & can’t compost (these two fantastic illustrations are by Robin Clugston, illustrator extraordinaire). Check her out!
How does composting work?
It’s all about the microbes (bacteria), baby! These little suckers eat their way through your decaying pile of organic matter, so quickly in fact, that they produce heat and carbon dioxide. This heat attracts even more microbes who thrive in hot environments. While the microbes are eating vast quantities of decomposing matter and generating all that heat, worms and other beneficial bugs join in on the feast. They poop out all that food, which is what makes the texture and moisture content of compost not to gritty, not to mushy, but just right!
Benefits of composting from Earth Easy:
–Soil conditioner: With compost, you are creating rich humus for lawn and garden. This adds nutrients to your plants and helps retain moisture in the soil.
–Recycles kitchen and yard waste: Composting can divert as much as 30% of household waste away from the garbage can.
–Introduces beneficial organisms to the soil: Microscopic organisms in compost help aerate the soil, break down organic material for plant use and ward off plant disease.
–Good for the environment: Composting offers a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers.
–Reduces landfill waste: Most landfills in North America are quickly filling up; many have already closed down. One-third of landfill waste is made up of compostable materials. — from Earth Easy
Easy-Peasy Way to Make Compost:
You will need:
Green (nitrogen rich) materials–
Vegetables scraps, egg shells, fruit rinds, grass clippings, manure from livestock or chickens (herbivores). Do not use waste from cats or dogs (carnivores).
Brown (carbon rich) materials:
Straw, newspaper, leaves, dead plants
A couple buckets full of soil, with no added pesticides or chemicals.
A 2×2 foot (at least) space that is either enclosed or protected spot with good drainage.
Use a ratio of 3:1 of brown to green materials. Layer several inches of brown material first, then a layer of green. Add a small layer of soil. Add another layer of brown stuff, then add water to moisten (not saturate) the pile. Start again with the green matter, and continue to layer until you are out of materials. Moisten your pile, again.
Turn your pile every 1-2 weeks. If your pile stinks, add more browns to your pile. Your pile should contain about 50% moisture (about like a wrung out dish rag), so add water if your pile is getting too dry.
Your end result should be a beautiful dark colored soil that smells earthy (not stinky). This could take several months to a year.
If you are like me, and forget to turn your pile for, you know, months, that’s OK! This is actually referred to as “cold composting”. It requires very little effort, but may take 1-3 years to actually compost. No biggie if you’re not in a rush! Now, go play in the dirt!
Love to compost & have chickens? You will love this!
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