Composting at home is an easy way to produce high quality soil amendments for your vegetable or ornamental garden. At the same time, it’s a small but important step toward reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfills and eliminating the use of chemical fertilizers. Why throw something away if it can improve your garden soil and help you grow tastier vegetables?
Building or Buying a Compost Bin
The first thing you need is an outdoor compost bin. If you are a do-it-yourself type, it’s easy enough to build one. Four posts and some galvanized metal fencing or hardware cloth are the basic materials. About 24 to 30 inches square and three feet tall is a good size. Ideally, you should make a hatch or flap on one side at the base of the bin. That way you can scoop out finished compost at the bottom while fresh material is on top.
There are also numerous types of compost bins available commercially. They range from very basic to quite fancy. Some make it very easy to turn the compost and have openings to let in just the right amount of rainwater. Your local landscape supply centre can help you select a model that fits your needs.
What to Put in Your Compost Bin
The best compost will have a mixture of materials; wet and dry or green and brown are two ways to think about the combination of materials that make a good compost blend. Wet or green matter includes things like food scraps and grass clippings. Dry or brown materials are dead leaves, shredded paper and similar items. Though you can compost only dry leaves, for example, it will take much longer than if you also add grass clippings and food scraps to the bin.
It is best not to put meat scraps or bones in compost. They break down slowly and are likely to attract raccoons and neighborhood dogs into your yard. Wood chips are fine to compost, but be aware that the larger the piece of wood, the longer it takes to break down. Eggshells and coffee grounds are good additions to your compost pile.
How to Maintain Your Compost
There are two basic approaches to maintaining your compost pile. The first is the lazy person’s approach! Throw stuff in the bin on a regular basis, but don’t do anything else. After a couple of years, if all goes well, you can start scooping compost out of the bottom of the bin.
A more effective approach involves only a little active maintenance, but produces good compost in less than half the time depending on the materials added. Turning your compost every two weeks speeds up the composting process significantly. If your bin does not have a turning mechanism, use a small pitchfork. Compost should also stay slightly moist. If it has dried out, spray it with a garden hose before you turn it. In a few months your compost should be ready to use.
A well maintained compost pile will not have an unpleasant smell. Bacteria and fungi work to break down whatever you put into the compost bin into nutrient rich, humus-like soil. You are more likely to notice the odor from your kitchen scraps on the counter before you take them outside. To solve that problem, buy a small, countertop compost bucket with a charcoal filter in the lid.
With one big bin in the yard and a small bucket in the kitchen, you have everything you need to join the composting movement!
Of course, you’ll have to supply your garden with new topsoil from time to time as well. Our triple mix is a great concoction. Call us or stop by our yard to book your top soil delivery today.