| Lets try composting –part 1
I hope to cover some basic ideas behind composting yard waste, kitchen scrapes and so forth for you to use in your gardens and flowerbeds and help return some nutrients back into the soil.
Composting is the decomposition of plant remains and other once living materials. This happens naturally everyday in the world in forest. When the leaves fall from trees and pile up on the forest floor they will start to decay. As they decay the live tree root system will absorb the nutrients to complete the recycling process.
If this natural recycling process works in the woods, why not use it at home for our plants & shrubs?
What is needed to compost?
The basics of good composting are to provide the proper environmental conditions for microbial life. This is the fungi, bacteria etc. That will do the work of decomposing. Insects and worms also play a roll to help the process. These are the basics that will transform your yard waste & kitchen scrapes into an earthy dark crumbly substance that is excellent to add to houseplants, flowerbeds & gardens.
To achieve this you also need to provide air, water & food:
Air is needed to help speed up the composing & keep the pile from smelling like putrefying garbage. Keep the pile “fluffy” to allow proper aeration.
Water is needed to make microbes live. You don’t want the pile too wet or dry. Rule of thumb would be like the moisture of a wrung-out sponge. To wet will mat the pile down & and could cause odor. And to dry will also slow the decaying process. Grass clippings & kitchen waste have higher moister content, autumn leaves and straw have less. You want a good mixture of moist & dry waste to keep a good balance. You may need to add water if more dry waste is used in your pile.
Yes even a scrap pile needs food to do its job. This is simple enough “browns & greens”.
“Browns” are dead plant materials such as straw, dry weeds, autumn leaves and wood chips. These items are a good energy source for the microbes. You will need to moisten these before used in the pile.
“Greens” are fresh plant materials like kitchen peelings, grass clippings, coffee grounds & green weeds. All these items provide nitrogen and are a critical element and can be thought of as protein for the millions of multiplying microbes.
A good mix of greens & browns is needed for a nutritional balance in your compost pile. This balance helps with moister content to keep your pile decomposing properly.
Now what should we compost?
Grass/lawn clippings (if you bag or rack your lawn), otherwise I just leave them on the lawn to add back to that soil.
Spoiled hay that has been left out in the rain is great for the compost pile. Various kitchen wastes like fresh produce peelings, coffee grounds, eggshells are very high in nitrogen. Straw, twigs, sawdust & wood chips are also recommended to compost.
Don’t compost this!
Chemically treated wood products, human wastes, diseased plants, pet wastes, meat, bones & fat food waste & pernicious weeds. You don’t want to transfer chemicals, disease and so forth back into your plants or worst yet to your human food supply. You also don’t want to invite pest into your yard with meat scraps. Common sense in this area will go a long way!
Now once you decide if composting is for you, you will need to decide how. There are many options to choose from, manufactured systems to homemade. This I will cover in more detail in part 2. Until then Chimes and Birds wants you to enjoy your yard! Please visit our online store at www.ChimesAndBirds.net to pick out some garden accessories to enhance your home & yard!