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Composting 101

Guest Author - Aimee Wood

Composting is a win-win situation. Taking your food and yard scraps and making rich soil while reducing your garbage content and helping Mother Earth, is a no lose situation. Compost adds micro and macro nutrients that release slowly into the soil and add years of healthy life to your plants. This article will provide you with some basic tips, making it easy for anyone to start.

First, here are some tips if you would like to compost outside. There is a composting method that can be done inside, called vermicomposting, which will be explained later.

1. Find a bin you would like to use. There are bins sold online or you can build one out of wood or wire. Stationary bins take longer for the compost to be made into rich soil. Tumblers are rotated and turn waste into compost much faster. Either way, you will want to keep your bin in a sunny location.

2. Add in brown and green matter. In the bottom of your bin, add in brown sticks to provide some air flow. Then, add in brown matter, such as newspaper, wood chips, and leaves. Then, add in green matter, such as kitchen waste (veggies, egg shells, fruits, coffee grounds, tea leaves). Do not put in dairy, meat, or fish.

3. Add material regularly and turn the pile with a pitchfork or other tool every one to two weeks. Remember to keep the pile moist but not too wet.

4. Feel free to add an activator to speed up the process if you wish. A common activator that can be found at a garden stores is alfalfa meal. Alfalfa meal adds nitrogen and protein to speed up decomposition.

5. Sit back and relax. Making compost is something any gardener can do and it is very rewarding.

Another option for those of you that live in apartments or would like to compost all year long in cold climates, is vermiculture. Again, you can order a indoor composting system online or you can simply buy a large plastic bin from the department store. A longer and wider bin is better than a taller bin. Drill holes in the top of the lid to allow for airflow. Some people like to drill holes in the bottom of their bin as well, if you do so, make sure you have it propped up on some bricks or blocks and have a drip tray underneath. The bin will need 70% brown waste and 30% green waste. And the most important ingredient for vermiculture is worms. A special worm, the red wriggler, is necessary. Earth worms will not work for this. Order these worms online and they will arrive quickly. When adding waste to the bin, remember that the worms like things in small pieces. Shred and soak paper in water and cut food scraps in small pieces. Move around the waste once per week and place shredded paper and sawdust on top to eliminate any odor. Water the compost every so often, maintaining it the same dampness as a sponge. The indoor temperature should be between 55-75 degrees. It should take 1-2 months for the waste to turn into compost. When harvesting the compost, be careful to keep your worms safe so they can make more compost for you again, don't throw them in the garden.

Reducing waste and creating a nutritious soil for your garden and plants is a wonderful thing you can do for your health and the health of the Earth. Adding these nutrients to your soil will last for years to come.
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Content copyright © 2015 by Aimee Wood. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Aimee Wood. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Katherine Tsoukalas for details.


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