Composting

BioStack Composter - Basic model, uses tier system to allow for easy removal.

Anyone who is privileged enough to own dirt in southern California is all too familiar with its very poor quality.   While many leave the work of tilling and weeding to their gardeners, for the do-it-yourselfer, many hours are devoted to schlepping to the local garden center to drag in bag loads of decent soil for every planting project.  

Not only is this frustrating and time consuming, it becomes quite costly and certainly reduces some of the cost advantages to home gardening.  How to solve this problem?  Composting, plain and simple.   By taking lawn debris and kitchen scraps into a pile, nature will reward you with a rich material that will turn your soil into something much more friendly to your plant roots.

Transport kitchen scraps to the compost pile in this handsome copper bucket

What puts most gardeners and especially city gardeners off of compost piles is the smell and rodent issue that could result when a pile is simply left out in the open.  Many garden supply catalogs (and ebay too!) offer special compost bins that will alleviate this problem with ease.  I purchased one that tumbles on rollers so my "pile" can easily be turned for maximum results.  (See Photo)

Composting is as simple as tossing your kitchen scraps and lawn trimmings away.   Although one does need to be moderately selective about the materials used, keeping an acceptable blend of "green" and "brown" materials in balance is the key.  Green materials are those that are fresh and moist such as citrus rinds, coffee grounds, egg shells, vegetable and grass trimmings.  Brown materials are dried leaves, pine needles, and newsprint.  If you find your pile is attracting a lot of insects it simply means your balance is off, and you need to add more brown material.  If your pile is not turning into rich, moist compost, then you have too much brown material and you need to add water and/or more green material.  The smaller the pieces added to your pile, the faster the compost "cooking" process will be.  Basically it takes approximately 3-5 months for your green and brown material to meld into the nutrient rich humus for your spring garden.  You can speed the process up however, if you choose a composting system that involves the use of worms.  Worm composting is very popular and easy to do.  The worms live in the compost and it's their digestive process that creates rich compost fast.  

Envirocycle Composter - Easy to use, separates "compost tea".

Another good feature to look for in a composter is one that has a small faucet that will allow for the compost "tea" to be removed by itself.  Simply adding a few teaspoons of this dark brown tea to a waning plant will make it bounce back like magic.  And it costs much less than commercial plant foods. 

So improve the health of your home garden while also bringing true meaning to the word recycling, and make your own compost to improve the quality of your home's soil.
 
For more information on compost bins and composting, refer to www.smithandhawken.com.


 

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