Posted by: ceara08 | April 19, 2009

Compost

Yesterday as I woke up, there was one word on my mind – Compost.  This sort of thing actually happens a lot.  I will wake up with an idea and feel I have to act upon it.  Sometimes this is how I get answers for problems or a question that I’ve pondered.

And yesterday I did not act upon this urge.  I kept getting interrupted and never had the time to sit down and type my thoughts.  So today I hope to remedy this.  Maybe it will help someone, and that’s really all I care about.  I am no guru or expert, but I enjoy sharing information with others.

So.. compost.

Like many others the whole process did not make sense at first.  I thought it was complicated and a lot of work.  But I do not think that way any more.   I will share my experience.

Ever since we moved to this property in 2004, I have been saving kitchen scraps.  Never wanted to just toss them into the garbage, because it makes the garbage bin full so fast.  So to reduce waste I decided to keep all scraps and do something with them… but what?

So I talked to the brother-in-law, who’s handy with tools and stuff, to build a compost bin.  I was met with opposition and told that it would attract vermin, was too much work, and in general not a pleasant thing to undertake.

A few months later, low and behold the brother-in-law got the urge and built a homemade compost bin.  At first I thought that was great, but quickly learned it was not the best idea ever.  It filled up too fast because it was rather small and there was no room to turn anything.  But this is fine if all you want is a place to dump kitchen scraps and not worry about it any more.  Yes it will rot down into compost, but will take much, much longer.  Plus it was too difficult to get the finished compost out of the bottom, and it was chunky and really only suited for a mulch.

So last year I got the great idea to just make a pile out behind the homemade greenhouse.  I piled on the kitchen scraps, bit of inedible weeds with soil still attached to the roots, sod, garden plant matter, some leftover hay, raked leaves and lawn clippings.

Twice a week I gave the pile a toss and once in a while emptied a watering can over the pile.  I did not cover it or fuss over it.  The most work was turning it.

In the beginning it was a pretty good sized pile, approximately 4 feet across and about 3 feet tall.  But by the end of the summer and just before the first frost, I gave the pile a final turn.  What I found delighted me!  The pile had reduced to about a wheelbarrow full but it was rich, dark, and lovely compost.

So, you can add just about anything you want to compost pile, other than meat or cooked foods.  You will attract all sorts of insects and worms, but that’s what you want.

The most important things you need to remember are

1.  Put what you want into the pile except meat and cooked foods.  This included shredded newspaper and cardboard bits, as long as they are not shiny.
2.  Stir the pile at least once a week.  If it’s dry, water it a bit.
3.  Don’t put too much grass clippings in there unless you also add saved dry leaves.  Stir it all together in one pile.  Does not have to be neat and tidy, unless you are a neat freak.

Just a little bit of attention and care will reward you with glorious compost.

I think the “magic” ingredient though is a bit of soil from your garden.  No need to dig in shovels full.  All that is needed is the little bits of soil left over on roots when you pull weeds or yank spent plants.

Our first compost “bin” didn’t perform well because it was not stirred regularly and did not contain any soil bacteria.

Here are a couple of videos that will help explain, and give optional methods of containing the compost.

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