Monday, August 6, 2012

composting


Composting is the perfect complement to frugal gardening. I love to garden but I also find it to be very expensive at times. Building a raised bed can cost over $100 but with our compost we were able to cut that cost in half. You can simply save the cost of store-bought fertilizers by turning kitchen scraps, garden clippings and dry leaves into nutrient-packed compost within a matter of weeks. 

What can you compost?

Most people would be surprised at how much everyday stuff they can compost. The best compost recipe includes a combination of carbon-rich brown materials (dry leaves, plant stalks, pine needles, small twigs, shredded newspaper) and nitrogen-rich green materials (fresh leaves, lawn clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags). Carbon is the spark that starts the composting process while nitrogen fuels the micro organisms that decompose materials. The goal is to have about three times as many brown materials as green materials. You can not compost meat, bones, animal waste, dairy, plants treated with pesticides or any inorganic material. Here is a list of 80+ items you can compost. 

Where do I get a composter?

If you search the web you can find tons of ideas on how to make your own composter. If you are settled down then I would do that but if you a like us and move frequently we bought a tumbler composter that we could take with us. 

What do I do with the compost?

There are two different types of composting, hot and cold. Cold composting is as easy as collecting yard waste or taking the organic materials from your kitchen are corralling them in a pile or a bin. Over a year or so the material with decompose.

Hot composting is a little more intensive but you see greater results. With hot composting you get compost in 1-3 months during warm weather. Rather than just letting the compost sit, you water it regularly until it is the consistency of a wet sponge. You want to make sure you do not water it too much or it will rot and not decompose. Stirring up the pile helps it cook faster so you also need to rotate the compost about once a week (either with a shovel or if you have a tumbler you just rotate that). As you go through this process you should occasionally check the heat of the compost (with your hand or thermometer) and when it stops feeling hot and becomes dry and crumbly it is fully cooked and ready for your garden. 

We have loved composting and loved how much it cuts down on our waste. We barely go through a trash bag a week and love it. I am also learning more and more each day about what I can compost and it is astounding! I hope this tutorial helps you take the plunge into creating less waste and more nutrients for your garden! Here is a great chart for a quick guide to composting.


1 comment:

  1. i was just looking up how to compost on the internet! i still haven't done it :) still want to though!
    love you and your blog!

    ReplyDelete