There’s a good reason why most gardeners have high praise for compost, which they often refer to as black gold. It is essential for a healthy garden, and once you start, you find that your compost bin just needs a lot of the disposed items that were previously going in the bin for recycling.
Composting sounds like a real intimidating process when you first come across it but what does the term mean exactly? It is a simple way to transform your garden soil to a nutrient-rich humus that encourages plant growth. What’s great is you are simply taking your kitchen and yard waste and recycling this organic matter to quicken the decomposition process, while at the same time doing something great for the environment.
With careful consideration of all the following details, you’d find it easy to get started with composting in your garden.
Where to Place Your Compost Bin
Decide on a convenient location near a water source, if you are planning an outdoor method of composting. It should not be an area with too much sunlight, to avoid drying out the material completely, but the composting process is sped up in the presence of heat/light so try somewhere with a moderate amount of sunlight.
What Goes in the Compost Bin
A healthy compost needs both carbon-based and nitrogen-based materials. To keep the pile most effective, use one-thirds of green materials (mostly carbon) and two-thirds of brown materials (mostly nitrogen) to maintain a ratio of 1:2.
· Branches, fresh grass clipping, bark dust, dried leaves, wood ash etc.
· Pine and conifer needles
· Straw or hay
· Corn stalks
· Egg shells
· Tea bags
· Dryer Lint
· Newspaper, shredded mail or paper bags
· Non-effervescent beer
· Manures (from chickens, cows, goats, sheep etc.)
· Coffee filters
· Corn stalks, cobs
· Tea leaves
· Vegetable, fruit and food scraps
· Lawn weeds, seaweed, kelp
· Green leaves, fresh grass clippings
What Does Not Go in the Compost Bin
These items may seem like they could go in the compost but can hardly reach the necessary internal temperature to eliminate bacteria and can attract components that can destroy the microorganisms needed for completion of the composting.
· Meat, fish or bones
· No dog or cat manure
· Peels from bananas, oranges or peaches which could have pesticide residue on them
· No sawdust or clippings with oil or chemical residue
· Diseased plants that have gone to seed
Compost Bin Size and Style
If you happen to have a smaller living space and want to compost, a single compost bin or compost tumbler could work great. A two or three-bin system if you have plenty of yard to work with could also be helpful in getting the materials proportioned correctly. Alternatively, you could make the initial pile right in the yard if you are not bothered with the unsightly appearance and do not have a bin to use.
Steps in Composting
The basic order in a proper composting method is:
Start with setting up your compost pile on bare soil that is well-drained. Fill it up a few inches deep, laying the straw or twigs first, then adding other compost material in layers and ending the layering with manure.
Add some water periodically until moist, not soaked. Repeat the layering process and then cover to retain moisture and heat. Repeat the layering process, then turn. Turning often helps aerate your compost pile and quicken the process.The time it takes to obtain finished compost can vary depending on the frequency of turning, but also what’s in your compost and how good the ratio is. It could ready sometime between two months and a year.
On a final note, if you're hesitant about setting up a compost because you’re short on space or time, you could opt for some simple indoor composting methods. Either way, once you begin composting on any scale, your garden will thank you.
Image credit: Thespruce.com