Compost is like dessert to your garden. Plants thrive in a soil supplemented with a well aged compost. Additionally, for the home gardener, it is a way to recycle and help the environment.
Compost is simply aged organic materials that contain nutrients that plants love. You can buy compost at garden stores, however it can get quite costly for the medium to large garden. But you can make your own at home by following a few simple tips.
What You Can Compost
- all uncooked vegetable and fruit peelings
- tea bags, tea leaves and coffee grounds
- egg shells
- dead flowers from the house
- soft pruning's, spent bedding plants
- spent compost from hanging baskets or containers
- dry materials such as shredded paper, rabbit and guinea pig bedding.
- leaves and grass clippings from the lawn
What You Can NOT Compost
- all meat products and bones; bread, cooked food
- dog or cat waste
- woody material (takes too long to break down)
- weeds (will put weed seeds in your garden)
- anything that is non-biodegradable, such as plastic.
You will need a container in which to place your compost materials. There are a variety of ready made compost bins available at most garden stores, however, you can use any large container or make a 4'x4'x4' wooden container with a little wood and a few nails. Just be sure there are many air vents in whatever type bin you use.
Place your compost materials in the bin as an ongoing project. Sprinkle with water every two or three days according to how hot the weather is, then stir or turn over the material about once a week with a pitchfork or shovel.
Depending on conditions and type compost materials used, in three months to a year you will have a rich, crumbly, dark brown compost which you can spread into your garden. Ideally, composting is an ongoing effort that continues adding nutrients into your garden soil for years.
Fall leaves are one of the most abundant materials for composting. You can collect them from your yard and most of your neighbors will be happy for you to rake up their leaves and carry them off. You may want a separate bin for leaves only or you can bag them up in large plastic garbage bags. Be sure to wet the leaves, seal the top and make some air holes in the bag. Do this year after year and every spring you will have leaf-mould your plants will love.