If you don't you really should. It has so many uses and it will save you money. I'll show you how to get started and your garden will reap the benefits!
Composting. The first words that come to mind... work, complicated, messy and smelly, right? If your composting pile shares any of these words, you may not be doing it the right way.
Composting should be simple. Yes, there is some work involved, but it shouldn't be back-breaking. The whole process is simply layering organic materials with a bit of soil, keeping it moist and stirring it a bit. If you can do that you will be rewarded with "brown gold" to be used in your flower beds, on your lawn, vegetable garden, and more!
Types of composting
There are 2 types of composting, cold and hot.
Cold Composting is the one that usually comes to mind first... yard waste, coffee grounds, fruit and veggie peels and eggshells, in a bin, that you turnover, and mix once a month with the hopes that it decomposes within a year or two.
Hot Composting is the less common one, but I recommend it. The reward comes within 3 or 4 months during the warmer weather. The four ingredients required for the cooking process, not unlike a straw bale garden, is nitrogen, carbon, air, and water. All of these items speed-up the process, provides food for the microorganisms, and in return breaks down the organic material.
Use these tips to start your composting project!
What should I compost?
Pro Tip: Onions and garlic are not welcome in your compost pile, they both repel earthworms. Worms are good and play a vital part in the process.
What NOT to compost...
These items can make your compost smell and attract unwanted animals and pests. A well maintained pile should smell earthy-sweet and fresh.
Combine green & brown materials
You will need enough green and brown organic materials to make a pile at least 3 feet deep. Combine your wet, green items with your dry, brown items by alternating layers. If your compost pile looks too wet just add more brown items. If it looks too brown and dry just add green items and water to make it moist.
Be sure to keep your compost pile moist like that of a damp sponge. If you make it too wet the important microorganisms will die. It's a fine balance but if done correctly they will flourish.
Pro Tip: if you are gardening geek like me you can actually use a thermometer to be sure everything is cooking properly, about 130 to 150 degrees. Generally if the center of the pile feels warm to the hand, it's doing it's job
Stir your pile
Your pile needs oxygen. Once a week you should be turning it over with a garden fork and do so thoroughly. There should be equal amounts of green and brown materials throughout. Turning the pile will help it breakdown faster.
Put it to good use
When your compost pile becomes dry, brown/black and crumbly, aka "Brown Gold", the process of cooking is over. Good job! The pile won't be giving off any more heat and it will be ready to use around your property.
With some raked leaves, kitchen scraps, a little work, and some patience, you'll be using compost in your gardening like a pro!
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Owner Joshua Lowe
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