Thursday, May 19, 2022

Smart Gardeners are Composting!


Approximately 92% of household food waste still goes directly to landfills, where it anaerobically decomposes, expelling methane – a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide - into
the atmosphere.  Don't be that jerk - rather compost kitchen scraps the right way in your own garden!  It saves not only the environment but also money in your purse...

You can easily improve your flower garden with compost, top dress your lawn, feed your growing veggies, and even mulch your planting beds with compost.  Once you get your compost pile started, you will find that it's an easy way to repurpose kitchen scraps and other organic materials into something that can help your plants thrive. Depending on the time of year, paper for example turns into compost within 2 - 4 weeks, and potato peels within 1 - 2 months.

Common misconceptions of home composting are that it's too complicated, it will smell funny, and it's messy.  This may be true if you compost the wrong way, but composting the right way is actually quite simple.  Just layer organic materials, add a dash of soil and a splash of water, and wait for this mixture to turn into humus

What Goes Into the Compost:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Coffee and tea grounds
  • Crushed Eggshells 
  • Grass and plant clippings
  • Dry leaves and small dry branches
  • Finely chopped wood and bark chips
  • Shredded newspaper and office paper
  • Straw and paper egg cartons
  • Small amounts of ash from your fireplace
  • Sawdust from untreated wood
  • Lint from your dryer
  • Hair and nail clips, dog or cat hair
  • Spent soil from indoor/outdoor flower pots
  • Yard trimmings and grass clippings 

Keeping a container in your kitchen, or even better a large paper grocery bag, and piling your kitchen waste onto some sheets of newspaper, wrap it and place it in this device until filled up.  If you collect it this way it doesn't small.  I practice this for years!  In summer I place the whole paper bag into a hole that I dug in my flower beds,  and then fill and top it with soil.  In winter I collect it in my garage until it is warm enough to dig again.

Start building your compost pile by mixing three parts brown with one part green materials.  If your compost pile looks too wet and smells, (which doesn't happen if you pack kitchen scraps into the paper) then add more brown items. Aerate the pile every ten-day. If you see it looks extremely brown and dry, add green items and water to make it slightly moist.

Add about 4 to 6 inches of compost to your flower beds and into your pots at the beginning of each planting season.  Or even better: compost directly into the soil instead of a (god forbid plastic) composting bin in your garden.

It works like this: decide a spot where you want to plant in a couple of weeks.  Dig a hole at least one foot deep and wide.  Throw a couple of dry branches (ca. 8 inches long) into the hole, then add your collected compost items to fill it half, add a thin layer of garden soil or composted manure (chicken, cow, or sheep), then fill the hole with more compost, and on top again a layer of soil.  Add some water to moisten it and use a thin metal stick to aerate the 'compost bin'.   Should you have lots o squirrels or raccoons in your area, place a flat stone or a flower planter on top for the first two weeks to deter them from digging.  Within three or four weeks you can plant in this compost-improved soil.




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