Monday, April 16, 2012

What you need to know about Compost (& doing it for free)

Compost is a crucial aspect in gardening because it is FREE, ORGANIC, HIGH QUALITY material, that fertilizes your soil so you can enforce nutrition and strength to your plants. According to "Why Composting is Important" from website, up to 30% of the material we add to the landfill is organic materials that could be composted at home (i.e. dust, paper, and food scraps) for gardening. In other words, YOU should be composting to reduce the amount of waste you're adding to landfills, while you could be using that compost to grow food, for free, for you and your family. Using your own compost to grow your OWN food is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself and your family.

Items to Include In your Compost: Vegetable and fruit scraps, nut shells, dead flowers, urine, newspaper, cardboard, grass clippings, leaves, wood ashes, human waste (preferably vegan), coffee grounds, and anything organic, natural, and that has not been chemically treated.

Items to Avoid Adding to your Compost: Meat, bones, cat or dog feces, paint, diapers, aluminum, plastic, charcoal ash, and anything that is un-natural or has been chemically treated. Aluminum and plastic should instead be recycled. It's interesting to note: if meat isn't biodegradable to the earth, how is it to your colon?
*Remember that you need THREE TIMES as much carbon material in your compost (i.e. hay, newspaper, dried leaves) as you do nitrogen material (food scraps, fresh grass, ash). For example, the carbon to nitrogen ratio should be 3:1.

Materials to Make Your Own Compost: Chicken wire, biodegradable material (food scraps, etc) wire, water, pitch fork (or something to stir compost with), black plastic sheeting (or other sheeting to cover and heat up compost), pliars (for manipulating the wire), and gloves (for safety.)Luckily, I found the posts, wire, and sheeting for my compost -- so I didn't have to purchase anything to create my compost bin. The best kind of gardening is free gardening, so try to find materials laying around your yard, your grandparents' yard, or the side of the road. There's so much material around us that we can reuse, but we would rather go out and buy them?

First, select a shady spot outdoors (away from your house and where water does not collect when it rains.) Secondly, you can make a square bin with posts to hold up four corners; or create a circular bin, without the posts. I have done the square bin (shown in the pictures above), leaving one wall open so that it is easier to fold and mix the compost.

You don't have to work the chicken wire and posts in the ground that much, because once you start adding your ingredients to the compost, it will become firm  and "stuck" in the soil for support.

If you're making a large garden, you'll probably need two large compost piles, like mine. The dimensions on my compost are 3 feet long on all four sides and 2 feet high. And just this one compost pile will mulch and fertilize only a small amount of my garden. I would suggest two compost bins for big gardens; and a small container of compost for a couple of herbs in your kitchen.

Compost can be used in place of soil. If you don't have access to organic compost, potting soil, or potting mix in your community, all you need is compost. Actually, you can use compost in place of soil for starter plants.

Stir your compost once a week. Allow it to air out once a week for a couple of hours. And, keep it covered the rest of the time in order to heat up and decompose.

There are other benefits to compost, for example check out what my compost gave me in this post: Compost Your Food Scraps

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