By Leah Allen
Compost is the natural decomposition of organic matter and the single most important supplement you can award your garden, plain and simple. When you add nutrient rich compost to your soil, it propels plant growth and revitalizes old stale soil. It conditions soil, improves soil structure, aeration, and water retention. Compost is a slow release natural fertilizer that won’t burn your plants like commercial fertilizers. Compost reduces household waste and reduces methane emissions, ultimately better for the environment.
OK great, you’re on board with all the reasons why you should compost so you’re getting started and Googling “compost”...
Three bin systems?
And oh my, what even is “hot” compost?
It’s no wonder the reputation of composting was for hard-core gardeners and soil geeks, however it’s actually not as difficult as you may think.
A compost pile is a collection of natural materials that when given the right environment, will break down into beautiful rich humus, known to gardeners as “Black Gold.” It’s free, easy to make, and simply the best thing you can add to your garden.
“Feed your soil, not your plants,” laughs Master Composter Caroleen Frey. She completed the UConn Master Composter Program and is passionate about good compost and worms.
Her advise when getting started, “There’s nothing wrong with a pile in the corner of your yard as long as it receives some sun, it gets churned up, and it can be covered to avoid saturation.”
Here’s the YES List of the Compost Pile:
Vegetable and fruit scraps and peels
Newspaper (no glossy or colored ink)
Coffee grounds, tea leaves
Manure (not from carnivorous pets)
And here’s the ABSOLUTLEY NO!! List of the Compost Pile:
Your compost pile needs to be “turned” with a pitchfork or a shovel every one to two weeks to assist in the breakdown. All the material will decompose at different times, but it all essentially will. When you turn the pile, you’re adding oxygen which is a key component in breaking down. No turning will yield longer results. Covering your compost pile will retain moisture and heat, two essentials for compost.
A concern for some is that it may attract flies, bugs, wild animals, however a healthy compost pile should smell earthy and any foul smells that attract unwanted visitors can be attributed to something that should not have been put into the pile. See that NO list again.
Another easy suggestion Caroleen Frey has for composting is a 55-gallon plastic garbage can that you can add your materials to, safely secure lid, and tip can over on its side and roll back and forth.
Vermicomposting Resources: www.wormladies.com (Charlestown, RI)
Online Resources: soiltest.uconn.edu; compost.CSS.cornell.edu
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