Green Living and composting go hand in hand.  We want to leave the least amount of waste behind and there is no better way than composting.  By having a composting option, up to half of all household waste can be eliminated.

composting and gardeningComposting provides two benefits.  It eliminates waste AND creates organic fertilizer for the garden.  Composting does not require a container or bin.  A simple hole/area in the ground for a compost pile works perfectly.

There are some basic principles in composting that are simple to follow:

  • Protein does not belong in a compost pile because it can become rancid. Proteins include meat and animal products.  The only animal-based ingredients that are okay to add are clean and dried eggshells and hair or fur of humans or animals.
  • Fats are taboo in composting as well. Fats include oils, butter, gravies, sauces, etc.  If a vegetable has been steamed with water only, it is fine.  But as soon as fat is added it is no longer a candidate for the decomposition pile.
  • The greater the variety of composting ingredients, the better balanced the compost  will be.
  • Adding soil accelerates the process of decomposition.  Soil contains necessary micro-organisms that ‘eat’ the ingredients and transform the pile from waste to garden gold.
  • A compost pile benefits from the addition of fruits and vegetables.  Potato peels, coffee grounds, orange rinds, banana peels and aged lettuce too old to eat are great additions.  Hair from haircuts has a wonderful nutrients but it is necessary to avoid colored or permed hair since they are laced with chemicals.  When the dog goes to the groomer, be sure to grab the pile of fur for the compost pile.  But don’t add dog poop as that will compromise the entire compost pile.

Once the compost ‘smells’ like soil and has no visible chunks of ingredients, it is ready to be used in the garden.  Using compost that is not fully decomposed can actually cause harm so make sure it is ready!

If turned every day and comprised of small, consistently sized ingredients, compost can be ready within a few weeks.  However, most who compost address the pile maybe once or twice a week so the average time for cooking is 6 months to a year.  It is also a good idea to have multiple composting piles so that one is ready to use and others are ‘cooking’.

Now that the garden gold is ready, compost can be added as a top dressing on plants or be mixed with back-fill soil when planting. Plants that receive annual additions of compost perform very well as they are receiving the ultimate in organic fertilizer.

Composting truly is the ultimate in recycling!

For more education about gardening and pest-free outdoor living, visit our blog.

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