Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Heart Rotting Stuff!! Or, Compost 101

I've had rotting stuff on the brain lately. Maybe it's Halloween, maybe it's the recent zombie crawl, but more likely it's the fact that winter is coming on and it's time to put the compost pile to bed and let it work its magic. I love compost. I really, really do. And if you compost, you know what I'm talking about. If you don't, then it's time to get started!

Composting is SO easy, there's no reason not to do it. I have a teeny, tiny urban yard and I compost, so pretty much anyone can do it. Here's what you need:

  • A dark-colored container. I have a black plastic vertical compost container that I got from Green Guardian for about $35. It's nice because it has a removable top for throwing in stuff, as well as a sliding door on the bottom for removing the black gold. You can use any kind of container, but the dark color is important, because you want the thing to get warm.
  • Some "green stuff": grass clippings, kitchen scraps- basically stuff that's not dried out
  • Some "brown stuff": dried leaves, small sticks- the dried stuff
Seriously, that all you need to get started. There are a lot of web sites out there that advocate using a lot of other stuff, like worms, a thermometer, fancy barrels, but really in my experience, you don't need all that stuff. When you start your compost, feed it with a little "starter" dirt. Then, just be sure that whenever you add green stuff, you throw some brown stuff on top. This keeps a nice balance and keeps odor down.

One thing you might want to add is a container of enzymes from your local garden center. We did this the first year, and haven't had to add any since (we're in year 4). Other than the enzymes, just keep feeding your compost pile all spring and summer with your yard and kitchen waste, and if you want to, turn it once in a while, especially in late fall just before you put the pile to bed.

In spring, you will be amazed when you open up that bottom door and there's lots of beautiful, black compost for you to spread all over your garden! It's like magic. Since using compost on our garden, we have had great harvests, huge plants, and used zero pesticides or fertilizers. We don't compost in the winter because we're in Minnesota and it's just too darn cold, and sometimes the snow is too high to even get to the container. If you're in a more temperate zone, you can certainly compost all year!

Compost is a wonderful way to garden organically, reduce your garbage volume, and have some fun with dirt! Dive right in, and I bet by this time next year you will have rotting stuff on the brain, too!

Here are a few resources to get you started:


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