Saturday, August 27, 2011

How to Compost

Add approximately 60% leaves or browns and 40% grass and food scraps
I grew up on a little farm (at least that is what my brother and I called it). We had sheep and goats, chickens, and turkeys and tons of gardens. In addition to the apple and plum trees that covered the property, my mom had vegetable gardens which produced enough for us to live off of. Nestled in the back of the property was the compost pile. My brother or I would collect the coffee grounds from breakfast and the veggie scraps from the day’s meals and take them up to the compost pile. That is where my contribution to the compost ended, I had no clue how the grounds and peels became lush compost (and to be honest as a teenage girl I didn’t really care). When I planted my own garden last year I had no clue how to fertilize it but I knew it could somehow be done with compost. So I looked it up and built myself a pile!

You know your compost is done when it is a lush dark brown color!

So how do you do it? If you have a large enough yard you can simply make a compost pile or construct a bin; our family uses an old wine barrel planter. If you don’t have room for a big pile or bin you can try worm composting (this is great for apartments).
If you have the room begin by looking for you location, you will want it to be a level, well drained surface. This can be in the sun or shade-I have read that you don’t want it to be in direct sunlight but ours is and as long as we make sure it stays moist it is ok.
Add approximately 60% leaves or browns and 40% grass and food scraps. Add water as you build up your pile. You want to make sure that the moisture is evenly distributed throughout your pile, and that it is about as moist as a wrung out sponge.
Now mix it up! Periodically you need to turn your pile, this adds oxygen which is needed by the organisms that break the matter down to survive. It also reduces the odor and break up the compacted material.
A worm bin is basically the same. Take a bin with a lid and drill some holes in it. Add some dirt and newspaper and then your worms. Feed your worm’s fruit, vegetables, cereals grains and other organic items. It is smart to cover the food with a newspaper or cardboard to keep the bin dark and moist, this will also discourage fruit flies.
You will know your compost is ready to be added to your garden when it is a lush dark brown color!
Here are a few things that you can add to your compost bin:
Vegetable peels, raw veggies, teabags, lawn cuttings, twigs, leaves, old flower, shredded newspaper, cardboard, junk mail, shredded documents, egg shells, coffee grounds, and lint from your dryer.
Make sure you do not compost meat, dairy products, laminated plastic (juice cartons and magazines) oils or fats.
Happy Green composting!!

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