08 Mar

Composting: Turning Trash into a Garden Treasure

Have you ever thought about compost? As a gardener, compost is a great source of organic matter as well as fertilizer which can be mixed into the soil when planting. Whenever you do some gardening or planting, using organic fertilizer is a great idea.

The great thing with a compost is that it is cheap and helps the soil in water retention where it’s needed. So what makes up a compost pit or what is a compost pit made of? A compost is made up of organic matter like the fallen leaves, trimmings of plants, clippings of grass or remains of other plants. There are fruit peels, kitchen and household wastes, coffee grounds, egg shells and so much more. Did you also know that you can also use shredded papers into the mix? Well, we do know that paper decomposes – just limit the amount of paper added in the compost because the more you add, it will clump together and the longer it will decompose.

Though we mentioned that the compost is made up of organic materials, here are some of those organic materials that should not be added in the list: grease, dairy products, meat scraps, or those materials that produces bad odor because these will attract wild animals. It is also a ‘no-no’ to add cat litter or dog and other animal droppings into your compost as they may contain parasites and other harmful organisms.

Knowing which organic materials can be used for your compost, you now need to locate where in your yard that you need to allocate for your compost pit project. Keep in mind that the area should be level, have a good drainage and can be hit partially by the sun. Make sure there is a good water source near because you will need that for your compost.

Basic Steps for Preparing Your Own Compost

1. Building your compost pit – structure. You can use wires woven together, big barrel, concrete blocks or treated lumber (1 by 4 inch dimensions). If you don’t want to make your own compost structure, you can buy prefabricated compost bins in hardware stores or turf suppliers.

Compost Bins

Compost Bins / Image by London Permaculture

2. Starting your pile. This is where your materials that you collected come next. You need to arrange them in layers.

3. Keeping the pile moist. Always keep a constant check of your pile by squeezing a handful – make sure to wear garden gloves for protection.

The compost takes 4-7 days before you are able to turn the pile and mix the materials. Make sure that the pile should heat up and that it should be moist enough.

When the compost is done which usually takes six weeks to a year, it should look dark brown and crumbly – soil consistency with a sweet and musty smell. Then you can use them in your garden bed.

28 Jul

How to prepare your own garden compost!

Reducing waste and recycling natural resources is not only the need of the day but also a productive activity for gardeners. By following some simple methods of recycling organic waste from lawns, gardens and kitchen, you can prepare your own garden compost to save some bucks and keep the natural environment clean and healthy.

Preparing your own garden compost might sound like an overhead and time consuming activity but it certainly pays dividends in the long run in terms of healthy plants, better gardens and cleaner environment.

Preparing Garden Compost at Home

Home Made Garden Compost, Image ⓒ Michaela (thegardenerseden.com)

Preparing your own garden compost is not difficult; at the same time it is not as easy and heaping up all your garden and kitchen waste. Preparing good garden compost requires methodical approach, appropriate heat, air and moisture for decomposing organic matter. Major ingredients in balanced garden compost are:

  • Grass clippings
  • Animal Manure
  • Leaves
  • Prunings
  • Kitchen waste (peelings, fruit and vegetable scraps)
  • Weeds
  • Straw

To start preparing your own garden compost, collect ingredients of compost regularly from your kitchen and garden. Prepare layers of compost material in the form of a heap and water it once a week. Turn compost material as often as possible with a fork. Allow organic matter to break down into a balanced compost. If you have a large garden, you can start with two heaps – while you are working on one heap, keep adding daily collections to the second heap. In this way, you would be able to maintain a steady supply of home-made compost.

Green thumbs who live in high rise buildings or do not own gardens can use compost tumblers. They are easily available at any garden store or you can make your own compost tumbler (video). Add daily collection of organic waste to compost tumbler. Add water regularly and let some air get into the layers but regularly turning layers of organic matter. Since these tumblers would retain temperature and moisture, the organic matter breaks down quickly and form balanced compost within two or three weeks. If you have enough space, start with two compost tumblers – one for ready-to-use compost and the other one for future use.