Gardening Project 2015: Learning to Compost
Written By Renee Arbia
|Photo Source: HowtoCompost.org,|
First came recycling and now comes composting. Since we have learned to love gardening so much in our family this year, it was only natural that we eventually got led to composting. If you learn to love gardening you will learn the secret to a great garden is to compost. One of the best things about composting is it is free and extremely easy to do.
Compost is dirt, gold for your garden. Think of it as, thick, heavy, fertilizer dirt for your plants. The more you have of it the better your garden will be. Compost gives your plants the natural nutrients that they need to survive while also helping your soil to not only give it nutrients but to also help balance the pH levels and keep your soil in great condition. The secret to great plants is to have great soil. The secret to great soil is compost.
|our compost bin|
We purchased a compost bin off of Craigslist extremely cheap. It has a lid, a drawer for when you have compost, and we were able to screw it into the ground. The bin is great because you do not have to smell or see it. We put it on the side of the shed. You can just have a pile to save money, but it works best, and is much easier to compost in a barrel or bin with an open floor that goes to the ground.
Composting is best to start in the summer time. Since the composting process works best at a temperature between 120-150 degrees Fahrenheit. Vegetable peelings, egg shells and coffee grounds are all great composting material. I found that frequent trips to the compost were getting annoying, so I made a little compost bucket for us on our counter. I ended up using an ice bucket that we never used and it came in handy for the counter compost bucket because it even has a lid and handle.
A great and easy thing to put in your compost is grass clippings, but be sure to mix them with “brown” materials like leaves, and shredded paper to add carbon. You need both green and brown materials in your compost or your pile will stink if it does not have enough brown material.
You do NOT compost meats or pet droppings. Stick with food scraps and yard waste only. Also be sure to avoid all pesticides and/or herbicide treated material. Be careful if you add weeds to your pile make sure it is a good, hot and steaming pile or it may not be able to kill the seeds.
Keep your compost damp, but not wet. As you add material to your pile make sure that each layer is moist as it is added. If you end up with too much compost you can always start a second or third pile.
You will attract bugs and worms. They are great, especially worms. You may even consider adding some worms to your compost bin. Be sure to turn your pile as often as you can, each time you turn it, it will speed up the composting process.
After a few months the compost will be brown. The bugs will move out of the finished compost to the unfinished area of the bin and you can use the finished compost in your garden whenever you need it. It is best to add compost to your garden a few weeks before you plant so it has time to mix in with the soil.
I have found a great appreciation for gardening and composting by watching the entire process through fruition. Teaching that process to my three year old son is amazing to watch. He watched a seed grow to a plant, which produced a pepper. We ate the pepper, saved the seeds for next year and put the pepper scraps in the compost for dirt for our garden. Everyday we get to witness the birth and rebirth of life, Mother Nature sure is a wonderful thing and a natural teacher of how the world really works the cycle of life.
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