Learn How To Make Compost In Your Own Backyard
Composting is a great way to include recycling in your daily routine. Your kitchen scraps and grass clippings can be turned into rich, crumbly humus that you can use to enrich both your yard and your vegetable garden. You can easily put together a compost pile.
Compost is both a natural, organic fertilizer and a soil conditioner. Here are some of the many ways that compost can be used to enhance your home and garden.
- It is an excellent soil conditioner. It lightens up clay soil and adds moisture retaining matter to sandy soil.
- It can be used as a top dressing for lawns. 1/2 inch of compost spread over lawns and raked and watered in will create a thick, lush grass. If you are aerating your lawn, you should spread the compost after aerating so it will fall down in the holes. It will disappear more quickly if you water it in.
- Compost is an excellent fertilizer. Spread it in your planting beds a few weeks before you are ready to start planting seeds. If you are using nursery stock to start your vegetables or perennials, just drop a handful of compost in the planting hole and stir it around with the existing soil.
- Compost can be used for mulch in your garden beds and around your trees and shrubs. Spread about 1 – 2 inches out to the drip line, leaving an open space of 6 inches around the trunk. Keep adding to it as it breaks down.
- It can be used to amend your garden soil by working it into the top 2 -4 inches of your planting area.
- In new homes, contractors often remove the nutrient rich top soil. So, before sod or grass seed is planted, work at least 3 inches of compost into the top 6 to 12 inches of soil.
- Make a compost tea by placing a shovel of compost in a 5 gallon bucket of water. Let it set for a few days and then use the “tea” to water your plants. This really gives them a boost in summer when they run out of energy from your spring application of compost. Your garden will continue to provide you with plenty of veggies to enjoy on your outdoor gas grill.
What Can I Compost?
Here’s what you can compost:
- Vegetable and fruit parings-chop up large pieces so they break down faster.
- Coffee grounds with their filters and tea bags
- Crushed eggshells
- Pulp from juicing
- Grass clippings
- Hay or straw
- Shredded paper
Here’s what shouldn’t be composted:
- Dairy products
- Fats and oils
- Weeds that have gone to seed and woody trimmings
- Cat and dog waste
How Do I Make A Compost Pile?
It’s important to choose the right location for your pile. It should be in an inconspicuous place, preferably near your garden and a water source. You should have bare earth on the bottom to allow soil bacteria to break down the composting material. Place sticks or branches on top of the soil to allow air to circulate. You need oxygen in the pile.
As you add your kitchen waste which is high in nitrogen, you have to also add material which is rich in carbon. Your carbon/nitrogen ratio should be 75/25. A simple way of deciding which is which is to think of green, wet material as nitrogen. This would mainly be your kitchen waste. The carbon portion you can think of as brown and dry. This is usually leaves, hay, dried grass or shredded paper. For example, if you have a quart of kitchen waste, you would need 3 quarts of dry material. Don’t forget to keep your pile as moist as a wrung out sponge and turn it every few weeks.
This is not an exact science. Be patient with your compost pile. It can take from 4 to 9 months for your waste material to completely decompose. A lot depends on how carefully you monitor your pile. If you keep it moist and turn it frequently, bringing the material on the edge into the center, and have the right mix of ingredients, your pile will be done sooner rather than later.
Even if you do nothing, your material will eventually break down because that is the nature of things. Don’t stop composting in the cool weather either. Your pile will keep on working until the temperature drops below freezing.
You can recycle your kitchen and yard waste in a compost pile. Then when you that use that compost as fertilizer to grow next year’s crops, you are returning to the soil what you have taken out. You have gone green. Congratulations!
Author Bio: Stephanie has been composting for many years and loves gardening. Her website, www.always-outdoors.com, explores many outdoor activities and she reviews outdoor products, such as the Nikon Monarch binoculars.