Composting doesn’t have to be difficult. You can feed your garden effortlessly and save money doing it. Composting also increases your soil’s water-holding capacity, reduces your waste-hauling costs and repays your efforts tenfold.
A good compost heap consists of: two-thirds carbon (or browns) such as newspaper, wood ash, straw, leaves, dryer lint and pet hair; and one-third nitrogen (or greens) such as grass clippings, coffee grounds, tea leaves, vegetable peels, manure and small yard trimmings.
Keep in mind that too much carbon slows material breakdown, while too much nitrogen gives compost a slimy quality and unpleasant smell.
To start a compost pile, work from the bottom up:
- First layer is coarse and airy – Twigs or leaves help bacteria survive and break down compost material.
- Next layer is brown – Straw and newspaper.
- Now, switch to green – Kitchen scraps and grass clippings.
- Top it off with a compost activator – Blood meal, bone meal, chicken litter or seaweed.
Cover your heap with plastic (old shower curtain liners work great) to help heat it quickly so the material breaks down. And, if it rains again, it’s protected. Soupy compost is never good.
Beneficial organisms require oxygen to break down the materials into organic matter. Experts debate on whether turning actually speeds the process. You may turn over your compost every two-three weeks or insert a PVC pipe into the middle of it and let the material decompose on its own.
Now, you’re on your way to a bright composting future!