Do you want to know how to compost, what materials to add to your compost pile, and what kind of bin you need?
Grow your vegetables in nutrient rich soil with composting
Learning how to compost is an easy way to add good nutrients to your soil without it costing you a lot of money, and if you are going to grow an organic garden your compost will be an important key to your success.
There are many good reasons for composting:
- it is the most natural way to improve your garden soil
- the cost to compost is virtually nothing
- it improves your soil and promotes the growth of healthy strong plants
- composting reduces the amount of material going to the landfills
- composting conserves water – composted soils have better water retention
- the composted material is a natural fertilizer therefore you can eliminate chemical fertilizers
- It is simple and easy to do
Ingredients for the Compost
Any of the following can be put into your compost bin or pile
- Wood chips
- Grass clippigs
- Vegetable Peels
- Egg Shells
- Tea Bags
- Coffee Grounds
- Garden Residue
- Wood Ashes
It a good idea to break your compost ingredients up into small pieces, this way they will compost faster.
Make sure the add water when needed to keep your compost from drying out and turn it often, just don’t make your compost to wet, it’s better to be a little drier than to wet.
Although eventually all things will rot and turn into dirt, to help it along I always layer my materials and sprinkle a little bit of dirt in between the layers. I then water it well and turn it over often.
When making your compost, don’t put too much of any one thing in it. It’s better to add a variety and remember to use a good mix of green and browns. Greens being lawn clippings, fruit and vegetables and browns being leaves, paper, cardboard that kind of thing.
Turn and keep it moist and soon you will have what gardeners call Black Gold!
Do I need a Compost Bin?
A compost can be as simple as piling the material in the corner of your garden, or building a box from some old wood pallets, it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.
When I first learned how to compost there was not a lot of extra money so I started mine as a pile in the corner of the garden and it worked out very well. Latter we build a three bin system, which I will describe later.
The important thing to remember is that your pile or bin will need oxygen and moisture to make it work.
When working properly your compost will heat up which will break the matter down and destroy any weed seeds etc. from the mixture.
The rule of thumb is to have your mixture as wet as a wrung out sponge, but keeping also in mind that it is better to be too dry than too wet.
You can add to your compost bin or pile all year long. Even in a northern climate where everything freezes solid for a few months a years. I use a 5 gallon bucket that sits outside the kitchen door. It gets filled with all my kitchen waste and then dumped onto the frozen compost. When spring arrives it melts and begins to work.
Types of Compost Bins
A popular compost bin is made by Tierra Garden, it is made of recycled plastic and is available at most garden centres.
These bins hold up to 80 gallons of material, the kitchen and garden waste is put in the top of this composter and the finished compost settles to the bottom where it can be scooped out.
Another popular compost bin is the Lifetime 65 Gallon Compost Tumbler, this compost is turned to keep the compost material mixed, helping it to break down quicker.
Both of these compost bins have lids that help to keep the critters out.
With the Tierra Garden it is a good idea to put some chicken wire over the compost exit if you have a problem with the critters.
I have never had a problem, other than my ducks getting in and stirring things up in the piles which is okay, but I do know in some areas critters can be a problem.
Wooden compost bins can be made from almost anything.
Some people use old pallets, logs, discarded building materials or lumber from the building supply store.
The picture here shows a basic wooden compost. Note that the boards are spaced apart so the air can flow thru.
When building you compost pile the stuff on the bottom will rot first, this is why I like to use a two or three bins.
This way, when I want the good stuff from the bottom, I simply put the material on the top into one of the other bins and before long I have three bins all in different stages of composting. It will depend on how much compost you want to generate.
One bin will work well too. Compost bins are usually about 3 – 3 1/2 feet square.
Counter Top bins are another way to compost.
These bins are lined with compostable bags making it simple.
Fill the compost and when full, take out the bag and put it on the pile or in the bin outside.