The Skinny: The bottom line is to layer brown materials and green materials—then, wait.
If you want more details about how to create compost for the garden, please read on.
What is Composting?
Composting is a process of decay, which can be aided by a few strategies.
When Should You Start?
The best time to prepare soil for the garden is long before you need it. I am preparing my soil for winter indoor gardening and next spring right now.
What Can Be Included?
Shredded leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen scraps. If you want to speed up the process, be sure the items you add are ground up. Shredding leaves and blending vegetable and fruit scraps will help the items decompose more quickly.
Good Items: Eggshells, grass clipping, shredded leaves, veggie and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, used tea, ground shrubbery clippings, manure.
Bad Items: (No to these.) Meat, human or pet feces, dairy products, items containing animals fats, weeds, diseased plants, and other items. If you stick to leaves, grass, and veggie/fruit scraps, eggshells, and coffee grounds, you should be okay.
What Tools Do I Need?
Ideally, it’s useful to have a pitchfork for turning the pile and something in which to enclose the pile. I have a simple plastic bin with holes in the side to allow oxygen inside. The top and bottom are open to the elements. You can also purchase compost bins that allow you to turn the pile with a handle and make the pitchfork unnecessary.
How Do I Create the Compost Pile?
When you start, you can layer green (nitrogen) with brown (carbon). A pile needs to have a proper proportion of nitrogen to carbon in order to break down.
Turn the pile with the handle of your compost bin or with your pitchfork to keep the decomposition process moving along.
When is the Compost Ready?
When the pile appears a dark brown and the soil is crumbly, it’ll be ready to use. Some people like to use a sieve to strain out larger chunks before adding compost to the garden. I don’t mind a few eggshells or other small bits here and there, so I don’t bother with straining the compost before use. Plus, those eggshells can be really good for providing calcium for your tomatoes.
What compost tips do you have to share? Please share them in the comments.