Composting How To

I am very particular about what makes it onto my compost pile.  I am rather “legalistic”, when it comes to my ORGANIC compost pile.  No scraps make it to MY pile, if I, personally, didn’t grow the food.  Some common composting materials include scraps from the yard and the vegetable garden.  Used coffee grounds and tea leaves are also good additives for the soil.  Eggshells are fine, but be sure they’ve been rinsed out completely, so there is none of the egg part left.  You just want the shell.  Then there are some other bizarre ingredients you can use that can really make the compost “cook” ~ hair and fingernails, for example are GREAT on the pile.  Save those goodies, when you clean out your brush.  Pet fur can also be used for your garden composting!

You don’t want to add any “animal products”, i.e. no meat, bones, dairy products.  All that just won’t work; it will contaminate your compost pile and attract vermin.

Composters

Composting is a necessary step in “feeding the soil” and preparing it to make it the very best it can possibly be.

There are a few different ways to compost.

One type of composter operates simply by using gravity

Or there are compost drums that you can spin around to mix up the ingredients.  The mixing speeds up the decomposition of the materials.

Personally, I prefer the good, old-fashioned compost pile.  I built a couple of “bins” onto which I throw organic scraps.  They look very much like this one, except I like this one so much better.  It is weather resistant and you will not have to concern yourself with replacing it or maintaining it for many years to come.  A VERY attractive selling point, in my opinion.  Have a closer look at it.

Ideally, your compost pile should measure 3 feet by 3 feet.  Water should be added to keep the pile as moist as a “wrung out sponge”. Cover the pile or bin with a tarp if it’s raining a lot and it’s getting too wet, add water to it with a hose when conditions are very dry.

Compost piles usually contain 1-2 parts green materials, which are high in nitrogen; this means grass clippings, green plant trimmings, and food scraps (all fruit and veggie scraps, grains, organic tea and coffee, and eggshells can be added; experts say not to add meat, bones, dairy products, eggs or oils) to 1 part brown materials, which are high in carbon; this means leaves, straw, hay, wood shavings, newspaper, and cardboard.

When building your pile, you should layer the greens and browns and add water to help jump start their breakdown. Then keep an eye on the moisture level and turn the contents with a pitchfork every week or two to make sure it continues to decompose evenly. The more you turn the materials over and get things stirred up, the faster it will decompose.

Whichever way you choose to compost, know that all of your “green efforts” really do make a difference. Thanks for doing your part to save the environment, and enjoy the healthy soil you’ll create with your composting efforts!

How to Compost

The most amazing thing happens when you are doing it right ~ the compost pile actually gets HOT.  You know you’re onto something, when you head out to the garden on a cool spring morning and walk by the compost pile and there is steam rising from it!  Celebrate that!  That’s a GOOD THING.

 

The temperature of a compost pile makes a difference and affects the compost creation process.  Decomposition of raw materials occurs most efficiently when the temperature of the interior of the compost pile is between 104 degrees F and 131 degrees F.  If the pile reaches these temperatures, it reaches its optimum efficiency and you’ll want to let it be.  If the temperature drops below 104 degrees, then you should turn the pile to motivate it to start cooking, again.

Also, you won’t want the temperature to get much higher than 131 degrees, unless you have introduced weed seeds to the compost pile.  If you have weed seeds to kill, allow the pile to heat up to 150 degrees the first time the pile heats up.  Then, allow the temperature to drop back down between 104 and 131 degrees.

 

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