Thursday, September 13, 2012

Gardening 101~ How To Compost

Anyone can make a compost. It is entirely up to you how much you want to compost. You can even make a small amount just for deck gardening. The first step is to decide where you want your compost bin and how big. You can compost many ways, some will make piles, some will have it in a compost bin, some in a compost barrel. Just choose what works best for you. The bins make it a little more "neater" looking. We have more than one bin. One came from our neighbors, they chose to get rid of it and it is a very small one that they purchased.

(This picture was taken in 2009.  Behind the blue barrel is our small purchased compost bin; on the other side of the tree is our pallet crate bin we made.  Nothing fancy.)

We also made one from crates, constructing 3 sides to contain our compost. We also (and when I am saying We, I am mainly talking about my husband.) have a barrel where Todd will place the compost and roll it around from time to time to mix it. He then will add it to one of the other bins after a while.

What can you compost?
When composting you will need: Air, Water, and Temperature.

Brown Items: This is what you may consider is the fiber of the compost. It is high in carbon. This could include fall leaves, dead plants and weeds, cardboard and cardboard tubes, old flowers, old straw and hay, small animal bedding, and sawdust.

Green Items: This item will activate the heat process in your compost and is high in nitrogen. This could include grass cuttings, early weeds (prior to developing seeds or blooming), manure from chicken, rabbit, or pigeon, fruit, vegetables (this also includes scraps), coffee grounds (including the filters) and tea leaves (including tea bags.)

Other Items: You can compost is paper towels, paper bags, cotton clothing (torn into strips), egg shells, hair. All other items should be used in moderation.

Air: You can compost without air, but it will create other bacteria and will take on a sour smell like vinegar. This will also attract flies and the compost will become matted and slimy in appearance. If you feel your compost needs more air, turn it and try adding more dry brown items. You should always start your compost with a layer of brown items.

Water: You should keep your compost damp as a sponge after being wrung out. You want to make sure it does not get too much water. If your climate has a wet period, just add more brown items to add air to dry it out.

Temperature: This is very import for the decomposition process. The simplest way to track the temperature inside is by feeling it with your hand. If it is warm or hot, everything is decomposing as it should. If it is not getting hot then you need to had more green items that are high in nitrogen.
How to compost?
Well to break it down you are going to have to layer your compost with Brown Items, Green Items. You should water each layer. Once you have your layers, you will need to turn regular once a week. You will need to clear a patch next to the pile. Then use a pitchfork and move the entire pile to the clear spot. When it is time to turn the pile again, move it back to the original spot, or back into the bin. Mixing the pile in this way helps to keep air flowing inside the pile. We (again I mean Todd) mix it inside the pallet compost rotating it to the front of the pallet to the back. Turning your pile encourages the correct growth of bacteria that will decompose the pile. It is important when turning the pile to move the inside to out and top to bottom and to break up any clumps. If the green items appears too dry, add water. If too wet add brown items. If you are adding to your pile, it is best to introduce the new items while you are turning and mix well remember to sprinkle each layer lightly with water as you build the heap if it requires additional moisture. Try to keep a mixture of 3 parts brown items to 1 part green items.

What to avoid when composting?
Avoid composting cooked food, bread, pasta, and nuts because they do not break down easily and become slimy, which can slow do the heating up and decomposing.

Never composted any of these items because they will not break down and for health reasons, meat of any sort, bones, fish, fish bones, plastic, synthetic fibers, oil or fat, pet or human feces (except fro rabbits and horses), weed that have gone to seed, diseased plants, disposable diapers, glossy paper or magazines, cat liter, and coal ash.

1 comment:

  1. very interesting i didn't know any of this how cool may see if little man wants to try this

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