No matter how careful you are with that commercial fertilizer, some of it will wash away into the ground water. There is a growing interest in protecting our land, our water and our air. More and more, people want to do right by the Earth, but they also want to enjoy rich grass, large blooms on their flowers, and prolific vegetable gardens. Organic compost will allow you to have all the benefits of fertilizer without damaging the world or inadvertently poisoning your family.
What you will Need
- The right spot
- Compost container
- Small bucket or shovel
Finding the Right Spot
One of the biggest challenges to making your own compost is finding the right spot for the compost container. You want an area that is away from the house because the pile may smell. You also want it to be safe from pets and children so that they aren’t underfoot when you are getting the compost. Make sure the spot is easily accessible to make it easier to actually follow through with your composting mission. It should be in an area that receives some sun. Truly, the more sun it receives, the better the process will work.
Choosing the Right Bin
There are many bins on the market. There are free standing compost containers that are essentially spinning drums. These handy contraptions even have a handle on the side to make turning the compost even easier. Other containers are basically just trash cans. In fact, you don’t even have to have a bin. You can just make a pile for your compost and cover it with cardboard or plastic. Whatever you choose, be sure that there are no gaps in the side of the bin. Insulated bins are nice for speeding up the process. Finally, choose one with a lid to help the process.
What Makes Compost?
Anything that was once alive can be used for compost. This includes any food scraps from your kitchen, so your garbage disposal will thank you! Sawdust scraps can be used as well as any tree and grass clippings. Shells from nuts can be used, and even pet manure can be tossed into the compost pile. You can also drop in those paper plates (not wax-lined) and napkins after your next barbeque. If you are including meat and dairy products, or cooked foods, you will want to be sure that the container is stable and sturdy against invading raccoons and other critters. A lid that fits snugly and securely will help prevent problems with insects moving in.
Keeping the Compost Moist
You want the compost to stay moist. Water can be added regularly to the compost bin to help it stay moist and decompose. The moisture level should be equivalent to a sponge that has been wrung out but is still wet.
Keep it Turned
Turning the compost pile regularly will help keep it degrading and breaking down. You can turn it using whatever tool you are comfortable with. You can use a shovel, or your bucket. Grass clippings and young weeds are fast to rot, speeding up the process. Keeping it turned is vital so that these items will turn to compost and not just a disgusting mess. Wood items are slower to break down, and should be chopped or shredded before they are added, but they add a fantastic mix of nutrients. Turning will help blend all of these items into the garden food that you are looking for.
Knowing When it’s Ready
The compost will gradually turn dark brown. Its texture will become soft and crumbly, and you can expect it to smell like the forest floor. You should not be able to tell what any of it originally was; it will all look like the same bits of mush and debris. Compost that is ready to use will also have a sweet smell to it.
Now that you know how to compost, you are ready to get to enjoy the benefits. Using your shovel or small bucket, spread the compost around the base of your plants and watch your plants improve.