Composting is a natural process that happens around the world. As organic matter decomposes, it becomes a soil-like material that is perfect to use in gardening. If you have been considering building your very own compost pile, youíre in luck. Itís an easy way to go green, while also reducing the amount of trash sent to your local landfill. Here is all the information you need to start recycling your kitchen scraps and building a compost pile to keep your garden looking spectacular.
How to get started
Starting a compost pile is as simple as choosing the right container and location. According to Real Simple magazine, the container should be made of a sturdy material like wood and no smaller than 3 feet by 3 feet. Find a shady spot with good drainage to place this container.
Once the container is chosen, itís time to learn what can and cannot be composted. Any organic material can be composted, such as leaves, straw, egg shells, coffee grounds and fruit peels. Basically, if a material was once a plant, it can be used in a compost heap. There are also two different types of waste: brown and green. Brown materials are carbon-rich and typically come from trees. These materials include wood chips, straw, branches and dry leaves. Green material provides the heap with nitrogen and includes grass clippings and kitchen scraps. Add waste in a ration of three ďbrownsĒ to one ďgreen.Ē
After adding the material, it is always a good idea to help jump-start the process. PlanetNatural.com suggests using an activator, which can be found in any home good store. Then, fold in a couple shovelfuls of garden soil and let the process begin.
How to maintain your compost pile
Taking care of a compost pile is simple since it is an extremely low-maintenance organic process. Simply add more material regularly to keep the process going. When you add a new material, dig a hole in the pile and stir the new stuff in. MarthaStewart.com also suggests turning the pile weekly when itís warm out and only every now and then when the weather is cold. The pileís process will slow dramatically in cold weather. Itís also important to keep the compost pile moist, so make sure you water it every once in a while. The pile should be like a wrung-out sponge; damp but not drippy.
How to tell your compost is ready to use
The composting process can take anywhere from a few months to a year until it is ready, depending on how large the heap is and the season. When it is ready, it will look and smell like very dark soil. For those that are unsure as to the readiness of the compost, just do what is called the Baggie test. Place a small amount in a plastic bag and smell it before sealing. Then, place the bag in a drawer for a few days. When you open the bag in a few days, it should smell like it did when the bag first went into the drawer. If it smells worse, then the compost is not ready to use.
One of the most common mistakes people make with a compost heap is forgetting to keep it moist. When the heap dries out, the process will stop. Itís hard to remember that composting is an active process, so itís important to check the pile regularly during hot, dry weather. Also, many people forget to use different materials. Using a variety of materials will help the compost soil become nutrient rich, which is great for a garden.
Composting is a great choice for homeowners who are looking to go green while gardening. By creating your own compost pile, kitchen scraps and lawn trimmings will be put to good use, helping you be more eco-friendly.
This article is presented by Colonial Buick GMC in Watertown, Massachusetts.