Gardening is a relaxing and rewarding hobby for many outdoor enthusiasts. There is just something distinctly fulfilling about putting a seed into the ground, adding a bit of water and sunshine and watching the fruits of your labors come to light. For backyard gardeners, an organic approach is almost always preferable. Why waste your efforts on pesticide-ridden crops when you can just as easily manage with all-natural techniques? Compost is one of the best natural fertilizers. It can, however, be expensive to purchase pre-packaged compost. The good news is that making your own garden compost is extremely easy. With very basic supplies, you can be enjoying your own garden gold before you know it. Here are the steps you need to know to make garden compost.
Create a Composting Area
Before you can get your garden compost cooking, you will need a place to put it all. Depending on your yard’s layout and your particular style, there are several ways to create a compost bin. For the easiest options, select a commercial composting setup. These are often plastic drums with different compartments. The organic waste goes in one end and the drum can be easily turned to mix the contents for proper decomposition. Commercially made compost bins are quite effective, but can be a bit pricey. Another option that is much cheaper is to build your own compost bin. There aren’t really any rules that must be adhered to. Any place that contains the organic matter should do the trick. Some people take salvaged palettes and lay them on end to create a composting space. You can also create a composting circle with something as simple as fencing wire. Again, if you can find it used or salvaged, your costs will be negligible. Whatever your setup is, however, make sure that you can easily reach into the compost pile for maintenance.
What to Put In
Understanding what to place in your compost isn’t that hard. There are just a few basic principles to keep in mind. Anything that is organic should be placed in the compost pile. This includes yard waste, such as leaves and grass with little to no weed seeds. Kitchen scraps should also be used, as long as you stick with things like fruits and vegetables. Animal products, either raw or cooked, are not suitable for your garden compost. They can attract flies and their ensuing larvae, affecting the balance of your compost pile. Some purists don’t even put cooked vegetable scraps in their compost, but there is really no harm in doing so. You should, however, avoid raw potatoes, either whole or peels; they can actually start to grow in the compost. Finally, adding egg shells can increase the calcium content of your compost pile; for the quickest decomposition, crush them before mixing them in.
If you have animals, you likely have a source of manure and other animal waste. Depending on the type of animals you keep and the quantities of manure, they may be suitable to add to the compost. Chicken litter is an especially excellent addition, as it has both droppings and organic material in the straw or pine shavings. Chicken manure is also not as hot as other animal waste and composts very quickly. If you have horses, cows or goats, however, avoid overloading the compost with manure. It’s best to compost large amounts of manure separately, mixing it into the compost when it is used as a soil amendment. This will keep the system balanced.
Your compost will need to be properly rotated, turned and maintained for best performance. Even compost that is neglected, however, will eventually do its thing. To quicken the process, turn regularly, mixing older material with newer additions. Misting with water can also help hasten decomposition. Finally, if your compost is going to be overwintered, cover the container to keep out vermin and unwanted weeds.