Wouldn’t you love to have ready-made fertilizer available all the time? All it takes is a small amount of space and planning. Since we want our plants to thrive with as little effort as possible, it is crucial to give our plants good soil. By regularly adding compost to our garden soils and to the backfill when planting trees and shrubs, the improvement to the growing environment is very rewarding. Of course you can purchase compost (organic matter) from your local independent garden center, but wouldn’t it be funner to create it from items right around your home? All of the trimmings from your plants, grass clippings, newspaper and kitchen waste can be used to produce this “black gold”. Just follow a few basic guidelines noted here and you will be on your way to FREE compost made in your own back yard. Note: It takes 4 to 6 months to make a “batch”. Two batches a year is a reasonable expectation.
Here are the basics: There are 2 basic forms of organic matter(OM)- brown and green. (1) Brown types of OM are the fall leaves, strips of newspaper, egg shells, straw, twigs and small branches. (2) Green OM are grass clippings, kitchen scraps like peelings and fruit rinds, and weeds before they set seed. Avoid using any bones, meat waste, or cooking oils. They will create unwanted odors and attract rodents and other pesky animals. Use a layering system. Start with a few inches of chopped brush on the ground, then add an 8” layer of brown and green OM, with the third layer consisting of about an inch of garden soil to provide the microbes that will go to work and convert the pile to compost. Be sure moisture is added as you go. Mix in a small handful of urea fertilizer to feed the microbes. Repeat this layering technique until the pile is approximately 3’ X 3’ and 3’ high. Heat will begin to develop in a week or so when you build your compost pile in this manner. This self-generated heat is a result of the microbes in action and will determine how rapidly the OM is converted into compost for your garden. Be sure to keep the compost pile moist but not soggy. Try to turn the pile once a month and put the edges of the pile to the center. One way to make a quick, inexpensive “compost bin” is by standing some used pallets on end and wiring them together at the corners. This lets in a lot of air and keeps the compost contained and the area neat.
If you Google ‘composting at home’ you will find many more sources of information with much more detail. We hope this limited amount of info is enough to get you interested in making your own compost. Composting benefits our environment by recycling yard waste instead of sending it to the landfills, in addition to making the soil conditions for your plants much improved.
MVG – Growing Sustainably Since 1984