You can turn yard and kitchen scraps into "gardener's gold" by composting. Soils and potting mixes that include compost produce healthier plants regardless of whether you're container gardening, rose gardening or vegetable gardening. Sure, it won't guarantee the best vegetables, fruit or flowers -- ones that are so good that they will attract the attention of thieves -- but it certainly can help make up for all kinds of plant deficiencies by improving your garden soil. Adding it is a smart way to boost plant health and, while you can buy the stuff, making your own compost is beneficial to you, your plants and the environment at large. At the same time it helps your garden, it also helps your environment by reducing the amount of organic material that literally goes to waste (and becomes waste) in your local landfill. Composting can reduce yard waste that needs to be hauled to the dump by anywhere from 50 to 75%. So, yes, compost is gold to gardeners, particularly those of us who valiantly try to grow plants under tough soil and growing conditions.
Benefits of Composting are many. Here are some composting tips:
- Gather all grass clippings and green yard waste but be sure to mix with the "brown" materials like leaves and shredded paper to add carbon. You will need both, but if you only add grass clippings your pile will compact and start to stink.
- Do not compost meats or pet droppings. Stick with food scraps and yard waste only.
- Avoid all pesticides and/or herbicide treated material.
- If you add weeds to your pile make sure your pile is good and hot. It should be steaming hot, not just warm otherwise it may not kill the seeds.
- Turn your pile as often as you can. Each time you turn it will speed up the process.
- Keep your compost damp but not wet. As you add material to your pile make sure that each layer is moist as it is added. During the summer your pile will dry out and the composting process will slow down.
- Got too much material to compost? Make a second or third pile. Stop adding material to a pile that is underway and start a new pile. This will insure you get a chance to use the compost this season.
- Add compost to your garden a few weeks before you plant. Let the compost have a chance to work into the soil. Try to mix it in and let it sit before you plant.
- Bugs, worms and most bugs are ok. No need to go crazy trying to keep bugs out of your compost.
- Since the compost process works best at temperature between 120 and 150 degrees composting in the warmer months is easier to do, if this is your first attempt at composting best to try in the summer.
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