Having your own garden can be very beneficial. Not only can you grow your own food, but it can be very relaxing, not to mention beautiful as well. Having nutrient rich soil is important to producing flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Luckily, you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to get the quality of soil that you need. You simply need to compost.
What is composting? Compost is decayed organic material used as fertilizer. Composting is something that can be done at home with the grass clippings, tree trimmings, and fruit and vegetable table scraps you produce. So how exactly does it work? It is generally done in a box of some type. This box can be homemade or it can be store bought. As you generate organic waste such as grass clippings, you add them to the box. Over a period of time, the plants start to break down. When the plants start to decay, they generate heat. The heat helps to break down the waste into a crumbly and nutrient rich soil. That soil it creates can then be used in your garden to help fertilize the plants.
How long does it take? Composting the plants into a useable fertilizer can take anywhere between two and eight months.
What type of box or bin should you use? There are lots of composting containers on the market or you can even build your own, but in general you want one that will retain the heat to break down the waste. Having a container that has easy access to the bottom is best. The best soil is at the bottom where the plants have had the most time to disintegrate. If you would like to build your own compost bin, the University of Missouri has some great ideas on various methods. They have everything from building small scale worm bins, to turn style versions, to large scale three-bin units. Check out the plans here (http://extension.missouri.edu/p/G6957) for some great ideas on building your own.
What should I compost? Unfortunately, you can’t compost everything, but there is a great deal of things you can. Green waste is the most common items to add. This includes fresh grass clippings, vegetable and fruit peelings, flowers, and even tea leaves (just the leaves, not the bag). Brown waste can also be added. This includes shredded paper, coffee grounds, small bits of cardboard, small twigs, and small amounts of dead leaves. Miscellaneous items don’t really fall into either the green waste, or brown waste categories, but can still be composted. This includes crushed egg shells, wool or cotton (only 100%), and hair.
What should I NOT compost? Just as there is a do list, there is also a don’t list. Don’t compost meat and fish, cat litter, magazines, BBQ ash and briquettes, and pet feces, as these items can contain harmful diseases, chemicals, or even attract animals you don’t want around. Another thing to watch for, is heavily infested green waste. If it has plenty of pests, it’s best to avoid adding it to your compost pile.