Making your own compost is one of the best things you can do for your garden
Composting is a natural biological process that converts organic material into humus-like mater that gardeners refer to as “black gold.” You can make your own backyard compost container from welded wire mesh, concrete blocks or wooden shipping pallets. If you prefer to buy a bin, consider one with features that make turning the contents easier to speed up the decomposing process.
WHAT YOU NEED FOR THIS PROJECT
• Place a small indoor bin near your garden and back door, and a larger one outdoors.
• Throw scraps into the indoor bin and, as it fills up, empty it periodically into the outdoor one.
• Add compostable items into the bin, such as kitchen scraps, tea bags, coffee grinds and grass clippings.
• Add brown materials to the bin, such as dried leaves, sawdust, straw, wood ash and the woody stalks of plants.
• Layer materials high in carbon, including lawn clippings, chopped leaves, green plants and agricultural crop residues with materials high in nitrogen, such as manure, alfalfa meal, hay, paper products, sewage sludge and wood.
• Never add chemically treated wood, diseased plants, human or pet waste, meat, bones, fatty foods or weeds.
• Add water regularly during the compost-building process to help get rid of air pockets.
• Regularly turned organic matter will become finished compost in 4 – 8 months.
• Speed up the process by turning the pile with a pitchfork once a week and adding fresh manure.
• Compost is ready to be used when it is dark and crumbly and has an earthy smell.
• Sift the compost to separate material that hasn’t finished composting.
• These pieces will continue to decompose in your garden.
• Once it’s ready, work the compost into the soil to give it an organic boost before planting.
• Spread it on the soil’s surface as mulch on flower beds and around the base of landscape plants.
• Compost may also be used as a top dressing for lawns or as an ingredient in potting mixes.