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Top 10 Composting Tips That You Should Know

Top 10 Composting Tips That You Should Know

Composting is an essential part of the garden. Large gardens or small gardens, on a deck or on the homestead, composting fits right in with every garden and household need. Composting is a healthy way to recycle and improve the earth, feed plants, and grow beautiful plants naturally.

There are lots of ways to make and use compost. Here are our top ten composting tips that everyone interested in composting, or those that already make compost, should know.

  • Start small. You don’t need a mountain of compost right away- even if you have a big garden. A little compost can go a long way in any sized garden- from a small amount to fill a tomato planter, to simply top dressing those same tomato planters, a little compost can make an excellent growing medium or simply a mulch and food for the top layer of your planter boxes. As you get used to turning a small pile of compost, you can add on the volume for more black goodness!
  • Start with simple ingredients. Some people get overwhelmed trying to figure out what goes into compost and when and how. You don’t have to make it a complicated affair. Mixing half and half wet green material with dry brown material is a simple yet excellent base for wonderful compost. Wet and green could be grass clippings. Brown and dry can be sticks, dry fallen leaves, or straw.
  • Make your compost in a spot that’s easily accessed. When you do compost right, it doesn’t have a smell. There are many enclosed compost containers- but even a heap enclosed in a recycled pallet box looks mostly like a pile of leaves and soil. It’s not necessarily ugly. You can have your compost near your patio or near the garden where it’s visible, and even more importantly where it’s easily accessed. You need to be able to turn your compost, add to it, and take from it easily; otherwise, you won’t use it or tend it properly. Don’t place your compost heap in the back brambles where the bugs bite and the weeds make it hard to get to. The path to it should be wide and easy to navigate.
  • Never put in meat, bones, or other such material. Not only does this sort of material stink when it rots, but it attracts unwanted and messy animals to your compost. Stick with composting vegetative materials. You can go as far as eggshells for non-vegetative materials, but don’t go much further than that.
  • Finished compost should be black or dark brown, crumbly, light and airy, and you shouldn’t see individual pieces of matter in it when it’s properly finished. You can add compost before its fully finished composting, but this can be problematic in some situations. To keep it simple, wait until your compost is ready before you use it.
  • Keep your compost moist. In the heat of the summer, your compost pile may dry out and the activity inside that breaks down the material into compost will cease. After all, the things breaking down your grass clippings and kitchen waste are living things- from bugs you can see to fungi and bacteria you can’t see. And all of these things need water. You can water your compost with a hose until it’s moist but not drowning as needed.
  • Turn turn turn! Keep your compost working by regular mixing.
  • Compost can be used to make a liquid fertilizer called compost tea, which is great for feeding seedlings indoors or giving a plant a fast boost. A simple method is this- take a cheesecloth or old thin fabric, turn it into a bag and fill it with compost. Tie and place this bag into a bucket of water and let it steep like tea for a few days. When finished, you’ll have a bucket of brown liquid that acts just like fast-release chemical fertilizer.
  • Keep pests out of your compost by either using a container that seals or composting in a secure area. Pets can not only make a mess, but they can bring in diseases by eliminating in and around your pile.
  • And finally, keep your pile going through the cold months by encouraging fast, active composting that generates heat. You can add worms to a pile to facilitate this.

Composting is wonderful for the earth and for your garden. We hope these tips help you better your compost or get you started for the first time!