How do you start a Compost Garden?

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Composting is the process of recycling organic matter into fertilizer to enrich the soil and help your plants grow. When you compost, you work to speed up the decomposition of materials such as leaves and food scraps into soil. Besides enriching your soil, composting also helps to reduce waste by recycling it into something useful. As an added bonus to your garden, compost also helps to conserve water in your soil and improve the overall health of the soil.

There are two types of composting: cold and hot. Cold composting is where you let Mother Nature do her job and decompose the ingredients on its own. This takes a lot longer than hot composting, but it requires a lot less work. Hot composting, on the other hand, is a lot faster but requires attention and care to keep the nutrient levels optimal. There must be a balance of nitrogen from “Green Materials” and carbon from “Brown Materials”. The preferred ratio for carbon to nitrogen is roughly 25 parts carbon to every 1 part nitrogen. There also needs to be a balance of air and water and heat. The heat kills most weeds, diseases, pesticides, and bug eggs. Composting can be a lot of work, but it can also benefit your garden greatly. Here are some tips for your composting adventures.

  • Don’t use animal meats, fats, waste, or insect-ridden plants because they can contain diseases.
  • Make sure to add a variety of components to the compost, it will make it richer and provide more nutrients.
  • “Green” things that are helpful to add:
    • Grass Clippings
    • Coffee Grounds
    • Food Scraps
  • “Brown” things that are helpful to add;
    • Eggshell
    • Dead Leaves
    • Branches
    • Twigs
    • Paper
  • The smaller the pieces added to the pile, the quicker they decompose.
  • Black composting bins are best because they trap heat better even in the winter.
  • The compost pile should remain damp, not wet or dry.
  • If the compost starts to smell, it needs to be stirred more often.
  • Compost should be added to a garden 2-4 weeks before planting, to allow for the nutrients to become properly distributed in the soil.