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Why is composting so great? What do I need to do to compost?

Compost_Heap

Compost_Heap

 

“Sooooooooo . . . why are you showing me dirt?” you may ask yourself. Well, any veteran gardener looks at that pile of “dirt” and sees a beautiful, rich, steamy, yummy-smelling pile of compost. Absolutely one of the best things you can do for your garden is to compost.

We’ve talked about our “Lazy Man’s Compost“, and “How to Brew Compost Tea” in our blog before. But what if you’d just like to do it yourself? Well, it’s really simple.

At our house, we have a second canister under our sink by the garbage. All food items go in there, unless it’s meat or has a high sugar content. This, by the way, includes coffee grounds and filters and egg shells and cartons (if they are paper). Coffee grounds are awesome for compost because they have a really high nitrogen content. Egg shells are awesome because they are all full of calcium.

But why is compost so great? Why can’t you just get an organic fertilizer and call it good? Well, because composting does something no fertilizer can really do – it provides a rich, alive medium for plants to grow. It naturally has all the microorganisms you could ask for, and it does so in a more gradual way than most fertilizers. This is also great because replenishing your soil with compost will encourage earthworms to live there, and millipedes too, which will help aerate your soil so the plants can uptake the water and oxygen they need.

worms

The other thing wonderful about compost is you are not going to “burn” your plants with it. You can use compost as a potting mix with the soil you already have, you can use it as mulch, you can sprinkle it on your lawn if you have a dead spot, etc. There are so many uses for compost.

Now, as we mentioned in “lazy man’s compost”, you don’t need a fancy box for your compost. Pick a corner of your yard where you won’t walk through every day, and start piling food there. We throw grass clippings, our compost bin from the house, leaves, basically any organic material we can find into a pile in the corner of our garden, out back behind the house.

The nice thing about doing it this way is we always have our compost right in the garden, where we use it most.  Now, you can definitely use additives to make your compost that much more awesome – we like Kelp Meal, Humic Acid (or just combine the two and use the Kelp/Humic Blend), Alfalfa Meal, Oyster Shell Flour, Bat Guano, and Amino Acids. Might as well feed your compost!!!

I found a really interesting recommendation (in this article) about what to put in your compost: Put in about 3 times as much “brown” material (wood chips, straw, dry leaves etc) as you do “green” material (kitchen scraps, grass clippings). This will help your compost decompose faster. Now, any and all organic matter will eventually decompose, so really just keep an eye on it. If it doesn’t seem like it’s decomposing very fast, find some already decomposed stuff and throw in there.

Basically, composting is for your garden what eating healthy is for your body. Sure, you can get the same nutrients from supplements (i.e. fertilizer), but if you can get it from whole foods (compost), you’re in soooooooooooo much better shape.

Kelp Meal Humic Acid Kelp/Humic Blend

Alfalfa Meal Oyster Shell Flour

Bat Guano Amino Acids Compost Tea Starter

Another great source for composting information is http://www.backyardboss.net/how-does-a-composter-work/

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