How to Compost
Composting, a term that literally means putting together, still ranks at the top of the environmentally friendly kitchen and yard waste practices list.
In its simplest form, composting amounts to collecting appropriate yard and food waste to make soil.
All soils from clay to sandy see benefits from adding compost because its texture improves air, water and nutrient flow through soil to plant roots.
Composting practices range from simple to complex.
Open air composting, for example, is as easy as designating a three square foot piece of land in your yard as a composting site.
Program practices consist of placing daily vegetable and fruit waste on the pile, mixed with a gathering of appropriate yard waste.
Compost bins come in shapes and sizes suitable to a variety of needs. Compared to open air practices, the use of compost bins provides an element of pile protection against uninvited animal guests.
Depending on pile or bin preference and the amount of yard and kitchen waste used, composted soil can be produced anywhere from two weeks to one years' time.
Here are a few simple steps to follow.
First, think of compost as the organic meal for soil microorganisms. Assuming that healthy meals produce healthy soils, your basic five star compost menu consists of a fixed ratio of carbon and nitrogen ingredients (30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen).
The presence of unusual odors, such as ammonia, indicate an excess nitrogen content. It can be remedied by adding more organic material.
Composting as meal preparation, follows a logic of layers. Typically, organic products such as coffee grounds, and fruits and vegetables constitute the first layer. Nitrogen products such as grass clipping and other yard wastes constitute the second layer.
Many compost advocates recommend adding a top manure layer, with the reminder that it attracts flies.
Avoid adding meats, oils and diseased plants to the pile. Water and aerate it (flip the pile) on a regular basis.
© 2000-2011. Patricia A. Michaels.