by Leanne Ely
You know my motto when it comes to eating fruits and veggies: eat fresh, eat local, eat seasonal. The easiest way to stick to that rule of thumb is to grow your own. Whether you have a big garden out in the yard or a few pots of herbs growing in a sunny window, there is a certain satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from eating what you have grown.
When growing your own food you want to start with a solid foundation and this is your soil. One of the best things you can use is compost. Composting is the process in which you allow, and even assist, nature to break down organic matter into a very nutrient-rich dark dirt-like substance. By learning to compost you cut down on the amount of garbage you throw away and consequently, create wonderful nutrients for your garden.
Back Yard Composting
To start composting in your backyard, you simply need to start a pile. Pick a good location in your back yard, it doesn’t matter if it’s sunny or shady, just make sure it’s accessible to water and that it’s an easy spot to add in leaves, garden and grass clippings. Make sure its at least two feet away from any structure (including fences).
You should shoot for a 60/40 blend of brown cuttings to green and food scraps. If you chop everything up first, your composting will go faster. Each time you add to your pile, add some water; don’t soak it but make sure its dampened. If your food scraps were wet when you put them in the pile, that should be enough moisture.
The next and final thing you need to do to your pile is to turn it occasionally. This will keep the heat more stable and keep the “food” at the center of the pile. It also helps to destroy disease by bringing contaminates to the surface so that the heat can destroy them. This will add oxygen which keeps the micro organisms that are breaking down the compost alive, and it also reduces odor.
Back Porch Composting
You can buy many different types of back porch compost systems or “tumblers”. These work well for smaller yards. With a tumbler it is more important to chop the ingredients that you put in it and keep a good mixture of organic materials, brown materials such as shredded dried leaves. Check your moisture level and turn often. If it starts smelling add more brown materials and mix well.
Regardless of what you put in your compost the more organic, unprocessed items the better. Here’s a quick list to help you get the most out of your composting.
|Brown — 60%||Green — 40%||Do Not Add|
|Dried leaves (fall leaves)||Fruit Peels||Fat|
|Straw||Weeds (annuals)||Whole eggs|
|Cardboard||Green plant cuttings||Dairy|
|Paper||Green grass clippings||Feces from humans or pets|
|Hay||Veggie peels||Weeds (pernicious)|
|Tea bags||Hedge trimmings||Treated Wood|