This week, on Saturday on the Farm, let’s talk about compost!
Compost is a great way to add organic matter and nutrients back to your soil. Composting is very frugal. Since your adding food scraps, leaves, clippings, and etc. from your yard, your compost is free. For a minimal investment of time, you receive a fertilizer that is better for your garden that store bought fertilizer.
To start composting, you need someplace to put it. Below, you can see the compost bin my husband made for me out of used palettes. There are numerous kinds of compost bins you can buy, but you really can make your own. You can also use trash cans for compost bins. You just have to make sure that you put numerous holes in the sides and bottom of the can. Water needs to drain out, and compost needs air to decompose.
Once you have your bin, it’s time to start building your compost pile. Here are some of the natural items that you can add to your compost bin.
- Vegetable scraps
- Fruit scraps
- spent vegetable plants from your garden
- leaves, fresh or dried
- grass clippings
- hay and straw
- newspapers, cardboard, old phone books, paper napkins
- wood shavings, sawdust, and ashes
- weeds you’ve pulled, as long as they don’t have seeds
- coffee grounds, tea bags
- popcorn kernels
- old spices
- egg shells, rinsed
- manure from cows, goats and rabbits can also be used
What NOT to add to your compost pile:
- meat or seafood
- citrus fruits
If you have enough to build your compost all at once, that is an option. Just layer your items, preferably alternating green (things that are still alive) and brown (your dried leaves, hay, straw, etc). Then leave your pile alone for several months. You can turn it once a month or so, and if it looks really dry, water it a little, but don’t soak it.
I like to add to my compost pile as I go along. Since my bin has two sides, I keep one side that I’m always adding to. In the picture below, the compost on the left is ready to be used, and the pile on the right is the one I’m adding to. Later this fall, I’ll stop adding to the pile on the right. By then, I will have used all the compost in the left pile, and I’ll start adding to it. In the spring, the pile on the right will be ready to use.
To use your compost, spread it around your plants. Compost is especially good for vegetable gardens and fruit trees, bushes, etc. I shared earlier how to make compost tea. This is a great way to get some quick nutrition to your plants.
Composting is easy, free (after you build or buy your bin) and your gardens will love it.