Posted by Peggy Farber on 5/25/2016

If you keep a garden but find yourself throwing away leftover food, you're probably missing out on the opportunity to reclaim the nutrients of that food through composting. When you compost, you're essentially speeding up nature's process of breaking down organic matter into fertile soil. The compost can then be used to nourish the soil of your garden or lawn. Today you'll learn how to make a compost bin, mix the compost, and then spread it into your lawn and garden so you can make the most of the extra waste you have at home.

Making a compost bin

There are endless ways to make a compost bin. In fact, a bin isn't even necessary to make good compost, and some people choose to just keep a pile that they turn throughout the year. Making a bin has many advantages, however: it keeps the compost pile warm and moist (two essential elements that speed up decomposition), it keeps pests out of your compost, and it keeps your neighbors happy who might not want to smell decomposing food when they go outside. Compost bins are commonly made from wood, chicken wire or plastic. Some towns even subsidize compost bins to encourage people to compost rather than throwing their compostable waste in the trash. Old wooden pallets are a great product to build compost bins from.

Adding compost to your bin

People who are new to composting often worry about what can be composted. Once you get started, though, you'll soon realize that almost any organic matter will break down in a compost bin. Beginners often stick to vegetables, coffee grounds, grains, and materials from your yard. Greens and Browns Compostable materials are often broken down into greens (nitrogen-based materials) and browns (carbon-based materials). Your compost bin doesn't need a perfect balance to be effective, but using some of each type of organic matter will produce the best results. Too much brown matter in your bin will be hard to decompose. Too much green matter will make the compost slimy. Here are some examples of great carbon and nitrogenous materials to put in your bin: Brown:
  • dry leaves
  • straw
  • newspaper
  • sawdust
  • wood chips
Green:
  • fruits and vegetables
  • weeds from the yard
  • fresh grass clippings
  • flowers
  • coffee grounds

Maintaining the compost pile

To create a good environment for decomposition you'll need three things: heat, moisture, and air. This makes compost bins relatively low-maintenance, but here are some tips to speed up the decomposition process: Heat In the spring and summer, nature will provide this for you, but having an enclosed bin that receives plenty of sunlight will help you out. Moisture The bacteria that are doing the composting in your bin require water to live. But too much water will make your bin a slimy mess. Shoot for moist, not wet. Air A compost bin needs to be aerated to blend the ingredients together. You don't need to turn it often; once every two to three weeks is fine.   Now that you know all you need to about making great compost for the lawn and garden, it's just a matter of mixing it in and reaping the rewards. Mix compost into garden soil and lawns early in the spring and in the fall after harvest to keep the soil healthy year-round.





Posted by Peggy Farber on 12/2/2015

Composting is easy to do and helps reduce household waste significantly. If you want to start composting, feel free to begin right at the earth’s level, on the ground. The key to a good compost pile is being sure to layer your items in moderation, allowing air flow and liquids to permeate the entire pile. Be sure to drill some holes in a covered container, allowing air and rain to pass through. If you do not have the space, start small or consider a local community compost option. Start right on the ground with a layer of sticks and grass or hay. As you build from the ground up, add moist layers of household waste and then dry layers of household waste. More carbon than nitrogen is necessary. Carbon examples would be coffee filters, cornstalks, egg shells, peels and wood ash (be sure they are not hot ashes or this whole situation will get out of hand). Nitrogen examples would be manure, lawn clippings, leaves and food scraps. Layering (wet, dry, wet, dry) is key to your compost becoming the rich soil you are striving to create. Layering accordingly will allow for airflow and faster compost. Too many ashes at once will clump and you will be unable to “churn” the composted pile. If you wish to use a bucket or an official com-poster, be sure to layer in the same fashion. Remember to cover this pile; heat retention is important, as well as controlled rain. Too much rain will ruin what you are trying to do. Moist is good, soaked is not good. Now that you are on your way to composting, be sure to turn that pile every few weeks, allowing the oxygen to do its thing. A great way to “churn” your pile is using a pitch fork. Oxygen is important to the breakdown of composted items. If you have an official com-poster, you may see results that much faster. Be patient, this will take some time, but the end result will be well worth it for you, your garden, and your patio plants. Quick note, do not add the following items to your compost pile, this will breed bacteria and attract pests: Any personal products such as toilet paper or tampons, raw rice is a bacterial breeding ground, cooked rice attracts pests, milk products (cream, milk, yogurt) or animal products (bones, blood, fish) should be off limits. Magazine paper or heavily coated paper will just add chemicals to your all natural setting and will not break down any time soon.




Tags: composting   recycle waste   soil  
Categories: Gardening   farming   Yard Improvement