By Patti Moreno, the Garden Girl
I get a bit of a rush, just thinking about compost enriched soil--Black Gold to the organic gardener. No matter what I do, I never seem to have too much of it. At home, I compost kitchen scraps, leaves, green matter, and the thing I seem to have endless amounts of, dog fur. My neighbors bring me their leaves, and grass clippings even though I’ve encouraged them to compost it themselves, but more for me. Throughout the cities and suburbs, grass clippings, leaves, other general yard waste, household waste and kitchen waste is put out on the sidewalk to be collected by the trash man. This is just energy misplaced. Composting the same waste yourself, then using it to feed the various plants in your landscape is now energy in its proper place. Starting a compost bin is the first step toward a petrochemical free life.
Here are three super easy things you can do, to have a constant supply of Mother Nature’s perfectly balanced fertilizer.
1. The $25 outdoor compost bin
Making a compost bin out of wire allows airflow and moisture to penetrate the pile and also contains your compost in a compact and non permanent way. Simply take any kind of wire hardware cloth or chicken wire that’s 4 ft tall by 5 ft wide. Unroll it and connect the ends together with some pliers in a cylindrical shape. Place the wire cylinder where you want to leave it while it composts, preferably, in an area where you want to use the finished compost. Fill it with grass clippings and shredded leaves exclusively. As time goes by you will see the yard waste compact further and further down. Continue to fill it until winter. Let it sit for at least 3 to 5 months throughout the winter and in the spring, lift the wire cylinder to release the rich compost and use it to cultivate and feed your garden.
To the left is my video on How to Make an Easy Compost Bin
2. The $0 indoor Garbage compactor
There are lots of great products on the market to compost kitchen scraps indoors, from super sleek under the counter models to the basic DIY worm bin I have. Worm bin you say? Why yes, I am a worm farmer. Everyone has a plastic storage bin so purge your self some clutter and transform it into a worm breeding factory. You’ll need a storage bin (not clear) with two lids, one for the top and one for the bottom to catch any fluid. Put 1/4inch holes on the bottom of the bin and along the lip to allow for airflow.
Line the bottom with cardboard and fill with a thick layer of shredded newspaper and moisten with water, 1 quart of soil to help the composting process, and a pound of red wiggler worms. Place the bin in a dark area like a pantry or closet in a convenient place for you to access every time you cook. A properly aerated and balanced bin won't stink, and if it does it needs more carbon rich material. Carbon rich material is usually brown matter, like leaves, hay, dog fur and less green, like kitchen scraps and the like. A powerful worm bin can digest its own weight in worms, in ideal conditions, every two days! The more worms, the more it can consume and turn into potent worm castings.
On the left is my video on How to Make Your Own Worm Bin:
3. Making Compost Tea
A Little Can Go a Really Long Way: Even if you can only create a small amount of compost, you can get it to go a really long way by brewing up a batch of compost tea. To brew, take two cups of compost and wrap it in some burlap. Secure it with a rubber band and soak your tea bag in a 5 gallon bucket of water. Oxygenate the water by pumping air or circulating it. Let it soak for no more than 24 hours and the little beneficial bacteria will start multiplying like crazy. Now use the tea right away to water your plants and you have infused your tired soil with a shot of powerful fertilizer. Do this once a week for your container plants all year and see the results for yourself.
To the left is my video on How to Make Compost Tea:
What to compost: Grass clippings, shredded leaves, pine needles, Wood ashes, Sawdust, Houseplant trimmings, hair, Shredded cardboard, shredded newspaper, Wooden toothpicks, Paper towels paper napkins, tissues, coffee grounds, Tea bags & grounds, cotton swabs, & Greeting card envelopes.
What not to compost: Pieces of wood or large twigs unless chipped, Diseased plants, Rocks, gravel, bricks, rubble, Coal ash, oil, meat, fish, bones, cheeses, Cooked or baked foods, Dairy waste, cat or dog excrement, Cat litter, Human waste, disposable diapers.
Patti Moreno is the host of http://www.gardengirltv.com and contributor to Organic Gardening, Fine Gardening, the Huffington Post and the Farmers Almanac . She publishes the web magazine http://www.urbansustainableliving.com and she answers questions at http://www.gardengirltv.com/messageboard. She is the Co-Host of Growing a Greener World and the number one gardening expert on Youtube. Buy Patti’s 4hr DVD at www.olivebarn.com
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