Composting for your Garden

Are you gearing up for this summer’s garden or pollinator garden? A bountiful garden with fresh produce or beautiful flowers begins with good soil. An effective, cheap and natural way to attain good soil is through composting.

Composting is a natural process that recycles various organic materials to produce nutrient-rich soil. Soil formed from composting will boost the health and production of your plants, and it uses kitchen waste to reduce landfill waste. Composting is the process of bacteria and microorganisms decomposing materials into soil.

Composting takes place with five key things:

  1. Temperature
  2. Size of materials
  3. Oxygen/air flow
  4. Heat
  5. Moisture

The materials used for compost are separated into brown and green. Brown materials are carbon suppliers; green materials are nitrogen suppliers. Too much carbon and your composting will slow down. Too much green and it will ferment, stink and lose nutrient value.

  • Ideal Temperature: 90-160 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Ideal Moisture: 40-60%
  • Aeration: turn the pile/bucket/can 1-2 times a week
  • Ideal Ratios: 2/3 part brown 1/3 part green
  • Readiness: It could take 4-6 weeks for your compost to be ready. It will look, feel, and smell like fresh, earthy soil.

DIY Composter

Materials needed:

  • 5 gallon bucket with lid - mine is an old one! (can use a round trash can with a secure, closing lid)
  • Drill
  • 1/4 inch drill bit (or something close to that, mine is 13/16)
  • Cinder blocks or bricks

Steps:

  1. Take your 5 gallon bucket and make sure that its lid is securely attached.
  2. Take your ¼” bit and place it into the drill, be sure it is tightened.
  3. Begin drilling at least 10-12 holes through the lid and the bottom of the bucket.
  4. Drill evenly spaced holes throughout the sides of the bucket. Do not drill as closely as you did on the lid and bottom (picture to show).
  5. Set your bucket on top of your cinder blocks, bricks, or whatever you may use to elevate it off of the ground.
  6. Add your brown materials -be sure to keep the contents in the bucket moist but not wet.
  7. Add your green materials - do not add too much green or it will ferment and stink.
  8. Once you have the correct ratios of materials (refer to table) place the lid on the bucket and lock it in place.
  9. Be sure it is in a very sunny spot and roll it around once a week!
  10. Wait a few weeks and your compost is complete! (you can continue to add materials to your composter until it is full -this may extend the time it takes for it to compost fully)
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