Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Compost 101

First let me be clear...I am not teaching this class, I'm a beginner myself, just sharing with you what I'm learning.   Like most of the changes we've been making around here, I've been talking about composting for more than a year. The difference now is that I'm doing something instead of talking about doing something. I did a little research before starting. I'll share the basics for beginners who want to join me in this endeavor.

The number rule of composting is no animal products. That includes dairy products. If you added butter to those beans...no compost pile for them. Meat products in the compost pile can lead to e.coli in the plants you fertilize with the compost, so that when you eat them you get e.coli. Yuck! If you are eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, the scraps and leftovers and trimmings and peelings make perfect compost. Coffee grounds can go into the pile, too, as well as grass clippings if you haven't used chemicals on the grass. Eggs are animal products, but rinse the shells and crunch them up into small pieces. You can add them to the compost or sprinkle these around the perimeter of your garden or flower beds to keep slugs out.


Rule number two of composting is to turn, turn, turn. You don't need a fancy container, although they do exist if you prefer that approach. Just shovel the stuff from the bottom and dump it on top. Turn daily. If you want to contain the pile, try a circle of chicken wire with an opening to get in with the shovel and turn.

Add worms to your compost if you want things to go faster. Their droppings are super fertilizer. There are worm composters available for that make it easier to get started if you want to go this route. You can get one on eBay for under $100. Or build a square from 2x4s and put it on legs made of 2x4s. Add a wire mesh bottom in the square and put worms and compost in top.


I am personally going the super-easy-to-get-started route...a pile in a corner of the back yard! At least the stuff is not in the trash can and my garden can benefit from natural non-chemical fertilizer this summer.

I would like to leave you with a quote from The Green Book, which I highly recommend you add to your reading list by the way... "If over the course of a year, everyone in the United States composted their kitchen scraps instead of sending them away with the trash, the organic waste diverted from landfills could make a three-foot-high compost pile to cover the city of San Francisco." That's three feet of black, nutrient rich, organic soil. Isn't that better than a three-foot-high landfill the size of San Francisco?

14 comments:

  1. I want a compost so bad! Thanks for the post! :)

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    1. Just make it happen! Refuse to put another piece of compostable (is that a word?) food in the trash can! That's how I got started! Just throw it in a corner of the backyard!

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  2. we are going to compost this summer---thank you for this!

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  3. If you don't have room to make a compost pile you can enrich your garden with compost by digging each day's compost into a new part of the garden. Simply dig out a spade depth hole and place the compost in. Cover and squash down. Each day methodically move along a spade width. No stinky pile and the worms get to work straight away. If you wrap the compost in newspaper it adds extra carbon. Carbon sequestration at its simplest!Don't stress about the ink! Try hanging your laundry outside in the summer.if you don't have a clothesline like us Aussies,drape your washing over lavender bushes and other fragrant plants. Yummy fresh!

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    1. Great idea for using the kitchen scraps daily! And I love the idea of putting the laundry over a fragrant bush to dry! Hope you come back to visit and with more comments :)

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  4. I miss having a yard/garden and compost pile! I had one for years when I was living in Colorado, and my garden flurished!

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  5. Thanks for the tips. They are handy to know!

    Danielle @ Royalegacy

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  6. We started 2adding years ago because are soil quality is so bad. I'm loving it!

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  7. We used to do composting. I honestly got lazy although it really was not much work! I need to start doing it again. Thanks for reminding me!

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  8. my dad used to compost when I was little. I went to his house this week while he is on vacation and picked a bunch of veggies. It really makes a difference

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  9. OMG I have been wanting a compost bin for sooo long. I read all about having an indoor one with worms and I sooo need too! LOVE your compost bin!

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  10. I am a huge gardener but I am just beginning to compost. Thank you for the helpful advice!

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