Setting up to Compost this Spring
Spring is (hopefully) around the corner and it’s time to start thinking about getting our yards and gardens in shape for the summer. The first thing I do is set up areas to compost all that organic stuff that I pull out of my flower beds and gardens, as well as leaves and sticks from the yard. Once everything is composted, it becomes the perfect addition to my beds, adding nutrients and organic material, so I don’t have to purchase it!
What Goes Into Compost Is Important
Anything organic in nature, meaning not manufactured, is fair game. Leaves, weeds, sticks, vegetable kitchen scraps, even egg shells make great compost. Some things that you should avoid are things like meat and anything fried or with oil. If you are planning on your compost to be spread over plants that you are going to eat, avoid putting pet waste in your bin. It’s fine for the yard or flower beds, but can make you sick in food-producing beds.
Hardware for Compost
There are a lot of different things out on the market that you can use to make a compost bin. You can get a bin that tumbles your compost, or metal corners that you can use to create a wooden bin. But my favorite is a simple plastic trash can. Cut the bottom off to allow drainage, a few holes in the sides with a drill, and you are all set for a great bin.
Setting Up Your Compost
One of the first rules is to put your compost bin on the ground. Tumblers are great, but one of the best ways to compost is with worms. If you put your compost bin on the ground, you get worms naturally, from the ground.
Place a layer of small branches, twigs, or straw down first. This will help with drainage of the compost, so it doesn’t sit in water and just rot.
The most important part about composting is arranging your composter in layers. Brown and green, such as leaves and grass clippings, should be layered to provide the best composting. You can also put in kitchen scraps such as egg shells, vegetables, and fruits. They add wonderful nutrients.
Keeping your compost moist is a must. Either leave the lid off when it’s going to rain, or spray with the garden hose about once a week. You want your mixture damp, not wet. This will help keep it decomposing. Once watered, put the lid back on to keep the heat in. Heat makes everything compost faster.
Lastly, turn your compost once every few weeks. Use a pitchfork or spade to turn it over and make sure the mixture is damp throughout.
When is My Compost Done?
Your compost is ready to use when it resembles dirt. A good bin can have compost ready in about 8 weeks. You can keep adding to it as you go, but once the bin is full, let it do its job. Keep turning it and making sure it’s damp. You’ll have beautiful organic material to add to your gardens in no time! You can even compost all winter so you have it ready for spring!
Making your own compost is fun and simple. It keeps a lot of organic materials out of landfills, and it gives you great material for your gardens. This spring, start saving money and make your own compost bin!