Composting 101

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If you’re looking for a nutrient-rich supplement for your landscape plants, and you’d like to reduce the amount of trash you’re sending to the landfill, composting provides the perfect solution. Nearly a quarter of the solid waste stream ending up in landfills is comprised of yard trimmings and food residuals. Composting begins with yard waste, including the millions of leaves you’ve been raking up lately, as well as kitchen scraps, that when combined and tended to properly will result in what gardening gurus dub black gold, and it’s free!

Composting has many benefits including suppressing plant diseases and pests, and eliminating the need to add chemical fertilizers.

You don’t even need to purchase an expensive compost bin, although there are some really nice ones on the market, but you do need a dedicated place in the yard to locate it.

  1. Choose a level area ideally away from roof drainage and out of direct sunlight, and dig up the grass in a 3 foot square section. You can enclose the spot on 3 sides with chicken wire or remnant lumber (leave spaces for air circulation) or just place the composting materials directly on the ground there.
  2. Add a mixture of ‘browns’ (carbon-based material) and ‘greens’ (nitrogen-based material) in roughly equal amounts so that microbes & earthworms in the pile can work their magic. A good balance of these materials will also minimize odors coming from the compost pile. ‘Browns’ include leaves, twigs, fireplace ashes, newsprint, and cardboard. ‘Greens’ include fruit & vegetable scraps (including has-been jack-o-lanterns!), pesticide-free grass clippings, coffee grounds & tea bags, and eggshells.
  3. Aerate the pile with a pitchfork or shovel about once a week. This also helps to avoid odors.
  4. Make sure the pile is damp, but not soaking wet (if it is drenched, turn the pile a few times).
  5. After a few months of the pile breaking down and heating up, it will look rich and dark and be ready for the garden and flower beds!

Source: This Old House

Photo by Alan Levine

Tag(s): Food, Money Saving, Reclaimed Materials, The Green Garden

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