Composting has been describe as the “heart and soul of the organic garden”. It is the natural way to add rich nutrients to your flower or vegetable garden, make sandy or clay soil suitable for planting, help keep nature in balance, and help reduce yard and household waste.
Getting started on building a compost pile does not have to complicated, expensive, or costly. In fact, composting is an incredibly cheap way to provide healthy nutrients to your garden. All you really need to get started is a shovel or pitch fork and some various yard, garden, and kitchen scraps.
Unless you are considering worm composting which will be discussed later, you don’t even need a container for your compost. Just begin a pile anywhere on your property, as long as it is at least 2 feet away from any structures.
Types Of Material For Your Compost Pile
There are various types of materials that people use for making compost. Some good materials for that compost pile include:
- grass clippings and kitchen scraps – these substances will provide nitrogen for your compost pile
- leaves and straw which provide carbon
- eggs shells
- coffee grounds
You want to avoid putting animal fat, bones, or grease, into your compost pile, as these can attract animals and other critters you may want to avoid.
Keep in mind that if you want your garden to be organic, then your compost pile needs to be as organic as possible as well. This means that you don’t want to use leaves and grass that have been sprayed with insecticide, and if you are using peelings from non-organic fruits and vegetables, then you want to at least wash those fruits and vegetables before peeling them, to remove as much of the commercial chemicals from fertilizers and pesticides as possible.
For fasting composting, your compost pile should be about 3 feet high, and kept slightly damp. It should also be turned with a shovel or pitch fork every other week.
Other Composting Material That Needs Some Consideration
There are some other materials that are often thrown into composting piles that will need some considerations. These materials include:
- Small branches from trees. While these do make good compost, they need to be broken down or they will take a long time to break down on their own.
- Newspapers also are often used in compost piles and break down nicely. However, while the newspaper itself is made from products, there are chemicals used in turning it to paper, and well as as in the ink used in the printing.
- Whether or not you want to use animal waste in your compost pile depends on where the waste comes from. You should never use cat waste in any type of compost pile. Dog waste should only be used if you have a worm compost pile that uses dog waste, and only dog waste, for food for the worms.
Dog waste on it’s own contains bacteria that are not healthy for plants or people. However, when used in a worm compost pile, this waste is digested, and then passed through the worms digestive system which somehow destroys the unwanted bacteria and turns the dog poop into rich compost that can then be used in your flower garden.
Many organic gardeners prefer to build a worm compost pile. Worms not only help to speed up the composting itself, but their waste makes for even more nutritious compost. Best of all, for those who enjoy fishing or want to sell fishing worms on the side for additional income, worm composting can be fairly profitable.
Worm composting does require a compost bin. Building a composting bin with a removable center partition and a divided loose fitting lid can help reduce your work load, as you will not have to spend time picking out your worms from the compost pile.
- Keep your worm composting pile relatively shallow, as red wigglers prefer to live in the top 6 inches of soil. Lay a groundwork of bedding with food scraps buried into the bedding on one side of the compost container, add compost and more food, keeping the pile slightly damp. Place in your worms and continue to add your compost to one side of the compost bin. After a while you will notice that all those grass clippings, leaves, and food scraps have broken down into rich smelling dark soil (3 to 6 Months).
- At this point, prepare bedding in the empty side of your container, hide food scraps in this side and quit adding food to the side with the red wigglers. Remove the center partition and the lid from the side with the composted material. Keep adding new compost to the uncomposted side of the bin, and wait 2 or 3 weeks for the worms to move from the compost heap to the new side of the bin, which they will do because they will want the food, and because they will prefer to live in the darkened area rather than the side now exposed to sunlight.
- After giving the worms a couple of weeks to relocate to their new side, you can then remove your completed compost, put back the partition and begin the process again. Because red wigglers can multiply quickly in this ideal living environment, you will need to keep the population down, so you can use some of the wigglers for your own fishing hobby or sell them to other fisherman.
Whether you choose worm composting or just plant composting to get rich nutrition for your flowers, you will feel good that you are helping to keep your flower garden beautiful, while also keeping nature in balance and helping the environment.
Do you compost? Have you got some composting tips you can share?