You can make compost to save money on soil enhancements and it is a really nice way to use up garden and household waste. You’ll enjoy a new level of successful growing in your garden and you can keep it all under wraps in a corner of your yard in a tidy bin until you need it. You can never have too much compost dug into the garden, especially the vegetable garden. Simply mix your compost into the top soil, in and around your plants and watch the difference organic nutrients can make.
What is Garden Compost?
Compost in the half decomposed state (aka humus) acts like a sponge in otherwise light soils. This is how it retains food and moisture for your garden plants and flowers – by soaking up and holding the nutrients. In clay soil humus provides air and drainage so your plants can grow.
What To Use To Make Compost
If you live in the country you can use animal manure to make compost. On the other hand, you could truck in some large bags of aged manure to your city garden. If you do still live in the city, and want to compost but you’re worried your neighbors will complain, you can still make an organic compost in the backyard without using animal manure and wash away your concerns about offensive smell.
Vegetable Waste Compost for Your Garden
This method describes vegetable waste to make compost. The end product is vitamin and nutrient rich soil which, when fully decomposed, and is nearly black in color. Generally it will crumble when moist, not lump in your hands.
Compost is rich in all necessary ingredients and is one of the best additives for your garden soil.
Compost bins range from natural worm bins to large, pest free containers in a corner of your back yard.
Some household waste items that are safe for the compost bin include:
- spent flower buds
- tea leaves
- coffee grounds
- egg shells
- banana skins
- any vegetable that has spoiled
- vacuum cleaner and clothes dryer fluff
- garden clippings
- shredded paper (ink free)
Some organic waste to keep out of your compost pile or bin include:
- meat scraps
- dog or cat manure
- orange, lemon or lime peel
- any diseased garden plants or clippings
You can buy a compost accelerator from your gardening center or add manure to the mix – I don’t ever suggest adding manure from a carnivore (dog, cat, human).
Tips for Healthy Compost Heaps and Bins
Keep your compost moist and warm – this is why so many bins in cooler regions are black (to attract heat from the sun, even in the winter).
You’ll want to ‘turn’ the contents of the pile every month or so to keep the compost fermenting. If your ingredients going into the compost pile have been small your compost will be ready to use much quicker. Composts made with larger ‘chunks’ of ingredients can take up to 12 months to fully break down in optimum condition.
Where to Get A Composting Bin
If you can wait for shipping (usually 4-10 days dependent on the unit and your location), I suggest checking out the multiple sales on composters.
Bins don’t weigh much, there are a plentiful number of styles to choose from (far more than you’d find at the local Home Depot) and the prices are always better than you’d find at a local gardening supply store.
More information elsewhere: Composting Indoors.