Thursday, June 24, 2010

Make Your Own Compost!

My newest determination is to begin composting. Rich, fertile “black gold” as it is called by gardeners and farmers, can be used to enrich any flower bed, garden plot or lawn - and you can make it at home!

I bought a cheap plastic smell-proof bin from and will begin collecting my kitchen scraps (egg shells, vegetable peelings, apple cores, etc.) and adding it to a compost pile at my parent’s house one a week or so. That way, my apartment-dwelling neighbors won’t have to smell my new project (although once you get the right combination of air and moisture, compost supposedly doesn't stink).

Here is a quick guide for those of you interested in making your own compost. It may take anywhere from 6 weeks to 1 year to be finished, depending on a variety of factors that affect the speed of the process.

1. If you're doing a pile (as opposed to using a bin with holes in the bottom), start by clearing the soil of weeds (you don't want them flourishing in your lovely compost).

2. Start the pile with a layer of brown stuff (high in carbon) to serve as the "fiber" for your compost. Brown stuff includes dead leaves, plants and weeds; pine needles; old straw and hay; or shredded newspaper.

3. Next, you want to mix half brown stuff with half green stuff (or up to 3 parts brown stuff to 1 part green stuff). Green stuff (high in nitrogen) will activate the heat process in your compost. Perfect heat-generating materials include: organic kitchen scraps like the ones I mentioned; herbivore manure (from rabbits, chickens, sheep, goats, or pigeons); hair; grass cuttings; etc. Note: Never compost animal products, feces from carnivorous animals, or weeds that are alive (they might grow).

4. Mix in a little bit of soil and sprinkle each layer lightly with water as you build the heap.

5. Turn your pile regularly, once every week or two. Try to move matter from inside to outside and from top to bottom. Break up anything that is clumpy or matted. Remember that the pile needs to be exposed to air and kept moist in order to decompose properly. For faster break-down, shred leaves, clippings; and crush egg shells

6. To aid the decomposing, add some worms, which can be bought online or at Farmer’s Markets.

When the process is complete, you may use your compost as you wish or give it away! Any farmer or gardener you know would probably love to have it! Happy composting!

1 comment:

  1. Haha, Stacy you never cease to amaze me! You are my hero at trying new things :)


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