Friday, September 10, 2010

easy composting 101

I have to admit I'm a compost junky.   I can't make it as fast as I need it (it is a slow process) but it's quite possibly the easiest garden project to undertake.

Why compost?  Why not when you can turn your vegetable waste and your yard waste into free fertilizer!  I know lots of people have tried (unsuccessfully) to have a compost bin or area and have had animal issues, or the smell is horrible, etc.  I promise, this really can be simplified into a few steps;

1-Put the right stuff in
2- Keep your ratios right
3- Keep it hot, moist and aerated

You've got two types of waste to put in a compost bin (or area) green waste and brown waste.  The green (nitrogen rich) waste are vegetable and fruit peels, cores, scraps and grass clippings.  The brown (carbon rich) waste is chopped up autumn leaves, sticks, sawdust, fireplace ashes or even shredded news paper (certain inks are questionable so stick to black and white only).

When you are putting waste in your bin, you want to have a 1/3 green to 2/3 brown ratio.  This is the biggest mistake that many people make.  They put a heavier mix of green waste (and let's be honest at some times of the year it's harder to find brown waste) and it begins to stink and attract raccoons, all sorts of rodents and even bears and coyotes (hey I told you we moved to the country).  No measuring cups are needed you can just eyeball the pile, but know that if you smell anything nasty you need to add more brown waste.  An evenly balanced pile does not smell at all!  If you don't believe me you can come over and stick your face in mine.

Once that pile starts coming together it gets hot, and I mean really hot and there is all sorts of super-cool biological activity going on as all the waste starts to break down.  To encourage faster (if you can call it that) breakdown the pile or bin needs to be turned once in a while just to shake things up.   While turning is not absolutely necessary it will take forever if you don't.

A few quick don'ts for the pile, no dairy products, meat scraps and bones, weeds or diseased plants.  Also NO PET WASTE.  Sorry folks, composting animal manure is a whole different animal (pun intended) and it's gross, trust me.

That's it, that's all you have to do.   I'm really not kidding.  More to follow on this topic...

Yum!!! Eggplant skin, banana peels, apple cores, onion skin, plus coir (coconut husk) and fireplace ash will make for some great compost.

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of a compost bin (even when you don't live in the woods!). But, I think what I take away from this is that being more ecological doesn't have to be difficult, and the impact can be huge. Thanks for sharing your knowledge as always!