6 Tips and Tricks to Producing Your Own Gardener’s Gold – The Art and Science of Composting
By Annie St. Francis – Reprinted with permission from The Repository Project
Here are 6 Tips and Tricks to Producing Your Own Gardener’s Gold. You’ll discover that composting is both an art and a science, and there’s a lot to learn. The more you know, the better your odds for great results in the garden. We are wishing everyone success in their growing endeavors, and are always delighted by stories of home grown fresh produce – delicious, nutritious, and lots of it!
1) Choose a location for compost processing near a water source like a hose bib, and be sure your hose and nozzle will comfortably reach your compost pile. You’ll want enough space to turn your compost, moving it back and forth between a couple of stacks. This work is important. By turning the compost, you’re encouraging healthy microbial growth, and aerating it at the same time.
2) Include both “browns” (which convert to humus) and “greens” (which convert quickly to nitrogen) in roughly a 3:1 ratio. Great examples of “browns” include leaf litter, pine needles, and straw, while “greens” might include fruit and vegetable peelings, cores, and other scraps. Fresh grass clippings are great for compost, but do exercise caution where pesticides and herbicides are used. Avoid these. Do not poison the organisms that will work to create your compost, the plants that will grown in your compost, or yourself through contact – by touch or ingestion. Organic compost is your best option, every time!
3) Exclude meat scraps, dairy products, eggs, breads, rice, citrus peels, pressure treated wood in any form including sawdust, pet waste, or used coffee filters – coffee grounds are great, however! Be cautious about onions and garlic as these may harm the worms working hard to help process your compost pile. This is an important subject about which to read more, and the list here is a great start, but hardly exhaustive. Always best to check in first – before adding anything unverified for as a compost contribution with quality, reliable sources of information.
4) Make the “pieces” small. Think “tidbits” of no more than 3” or 4” in length. These will convert more efficiently to usable compost, and the compost pile will be much easier to turn. It may add to the prep time, but that investment is a wise one. You’ll be thanking yourself, believe it!
5) Water between layers, but do not saturate and soak your compost pile. Think “damp” cloth, but not “wringing wet”.
6) The compost “pile” is but one option, and there are many! You might want to compost in a bin, and there are several design ideas to consider from those that stand in a stationary position to the tumblers that rotate around a horizontal axis. Pit composting, by contrast, uses a hole or trench to bury the goodies that will become your garden gold. Deposit your compost contributions, and wait ‘em out. Vermicomposting puts worms to work, and Red Wigglers are well qualified candidates for these processing jobs. Open bins are good options for either hot or cold composting techniques. Simple piles will also do the job! Compost tea, anyone?
Make a selection of the best books part of your home libraries, and enjoy your gardens, everyone!
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The Complete Compost Gardening Guide: Banner Batches, Grow Heaps, Comforter Compost, and Other Amazing Techniques for Saving Time and Money, and Producing the Most Flavorful, Nutritious Vegetables Ever
By Deborah L. Martin and Barbara Pleasant
Develop mature compost right in your garden. Barbara Pleasant and Deborah Martin explain their six-way compost gardening system in this informative guide that will have you rethinking how you create and use your compost. With your plants and compost living together from the beginning, your garden will become a nourishing and organic environment that encourages growth and sustainability. You’ll also find that the enriched soil requires less tending, weeding, and mulching, so you can do less back-breaking work for the same lush, beautiful results.
By Diane Miessler and Elaine R. Ingham
Growing awareness of the importance of soil health means that microbes are on the minds of even the most casual gardeners. After all, anyone who has ever attempted to plant a thriving patch of flowers or vegetables knows that what you grow is only as good as the soil you grow it in. It is possible to create and maintain rich, dark, crumbly soil that’s teeming with life, using very few inputs and a no-till, no-fertilizer approach. Certified permaculture designer and lifelong gardener Diane Miessler presents the science of soil health in an engaging, entertaining voice geared for the backyard grower. She shares the techniques she has used — including cover crops, constant mulching, and a simple-but-supercharged recipe for compost tea — to transform her own landscape from a roadside dump for broken asphalt to a garden that stops traffic, starting from the ground up.