Here it is – a refresher course on composting. I often get the question “How Do I Compost?”. Without a doubt, soil is the secret to a strong garden. Juvenile plant roots connecting to proper nutrients means the plants are going to grow into happy adults. I have a lot of concerns about why we should compost. Number one on my list is that landfills are being smothered in yard clippings and food scraps. These ingredients are one quarter of the United States’ solid waste landfills. Methane is a greenhouse gas over twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide, and this is what organic matter transforms into in landfills when it decomposes without air.
Converting garden and kitchen waste into rich soil matter is called composting. It does not produce toxicity and it is one of nature’s richest soil amendments and mulches. It saves you money because it costs very little make.
You can compost using a composter or the pile method. There are dozens of different types of composters, so for now we will not discuss types of composters, simply discuss how to compost.
HOW TO COMPOST
Your pile of compost needs a proper mixture of “browns”, which are carbon-rich materials; and “greens”, which are nitrogen-rich materials; and water. Remember, that to keep your compost organic, you will need to add natural products that do not have chemicals, fungicides, or weed killer in them.
Below is a list of browns and greens you might consider using in your compost pile -
Examples of browns:
- Aged grass clippings.
- Dead leaves (do not use dead leaves from diseased plants).
- Newspaper, black-and-white print preferred.
- Brown paper bags from the grocery store.
- Shredded cardboard and paper-based tissues and towels.
- Finely shredded cotton.
- Floor sweepings.
Examples of greens:
- Coffee grounds.
- Tea bags with metal staple removed.
- Kitchen scraps. Avoid items that will root, such as potato skins and onions, unless ground completely.
- New grass clippings.
- Plant prunings (do not add clippings from diseased plants).
- Spent flowers and pulled weeds.
- Barnyard animal manures such as cow, horse, chicken, goat, sheep, and rabbit. Do not use dog, cat, or human manure/feces as they may contain pathogens or diseases that could be harmful.
- Do not add meat or bones or it will smell horribly.
To have the most success, you will need to turn the pile occasionally. It takes about three and four weeks to create compost if there is sufficient moisture and turning. Speed is determined by how often you turn the pile and the products you add. For example, if the contents are chopped up it will be easier for the microbes in the compost pile to break them down. Of course, a good balance of carbon and nitrogen encourages quicker composting.
Your compost pile should be warm or hot to the touch because the temperature of the managed pile is important—it indicates the activity of the decomposition process. If the pile is not warm, then the microbial activity has slowed down and you need to add more green materials. Place the compost pile in full sun to increase activity.
Organic waste needs water to decompose, so keeping the pile moist is also important. Gray water, such as old dish water or clothes washer water from your home can be drained into a compost pile regularly to increase the moisture level. Keeping the pile as moist as a wrung-out sponge is the level of moisture you want. If you actively manage the composting, within a few weeks you will have a rich soil additive for your garden.
This season I will be conducting an experiment in the garden; I want to produce better compost more quickly. Natural Industries has created a product that contains organic beneficial microbes to add to compost to help the decomposition process. I will be doing all the above, then adding the organic compost booster Decomp-9 to my compost bins as well to see if it really does accelerate the composting process for my garden. Follow me throughout the season as I test the Decomp-9to see if it works to help accelerate my composting.
If you want to learn even more about composting, I suggest reading up. One of my favorite books on composting is The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Compostingby Chris McLaughlin.
Special Note – Because the FTC requires it, I am letting you know that Natural Industries supplied the Decomp-9 for me to experiment with in this garden. I am a spokesperson for Natural Industries and write instructional stories and videos with their products. I donate a large portion of the vegetables I grow in my soil-improved garden to the local food pantry when harvested.