Baby Step 22: Make a Composting System

Anyone that has a garden (large or small) needs a composting system. Compost referred to by many gardeners as “black gold”, is the nutritious, microbial amendment that will enrich your soil while feeding your plants. Making it is easy. Here are the basics to starting your home-based composting system.

The best location for your composter is close to where you will need it – your garden. It should be in an area with at least partial sun. For step saving convenience we  use a small, sealed container in the kitchen for scraps until they are sent out to the composter.

There are commercial compost bins that are gravity fed (first in – first out systems) and barrel composters that spin to turn-over the compost mix. You can build a 3-bin system that stages the composting process or find a spot and start a simple compost pile. Whichever compost system you choose follow this basic composting recipe for the fastest  way to “black gold” .

Mix even amounts of greens (vegetable scraps, grass clippings, pond algae, etc) with even amounts of browns (mixture of dry leaves, pine needles, paper, coffee grounds, egg shells, & ashes). To get the composter working it needs an activator ( source of both nitrogen and protein) that helps all the different bacteria and microorganisms breakdown composting materials. Good activators include:  alfalfa meal, bone meal, cottonseed meal, and blood meal all of which can be found at a large hardware store or nursery. Combine layers of composting materials, a handful of activator with a little water. Every week or two aerate the compost by spinning or turning it over with a pitch fork. A well activated compost system will generate heat (140 – 160 degrees) and will not smell or attract flies. Compost should be a rich brown humus in 6 to 8 weeks. Add compost to your garden as an enriching soil amendment.

Never add meat scraps or bones to your compost system as it will become an  egg laying environment for flies!.

Photo featured on garden grab  www.gardengrab.co.uk

Take a baby step – make compost and save money while enriching your garden soil.

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