By Juan Jardinero
“The ground´s generosity takes in our compost and grows beauty. Try to be more like the ground.”
One of the first things you should do if you are trying to have a more sustainable lifestyle, is composting. Compost is the end result of the natural process of decomposition of organic matter that has been recycled and turned into a fortified substance that can be returned to the land. Compost will allow you to add nutrient rich soil back to your garden, offering a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers, and helping your plants grow bigger and better.
It is said that 30% of household waste can be composted. That includes all kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, grass clipping which will help increase the nitrogen content of your garden. To balance this out, you should also add carbon materials such as newspaper, cardboard, wood chips, leaves, straw, and wood ashes. A general rule of thumb to follow is 1 part green (nitrogen) to 3 parts brown (carbon). Finding that exact mix is truly the art of composting.
Here are a few easy tips on how to compost successfully:
1. Find a spot: Somewhere that will allow you to easily turn your soil every week as you continue to add more organic matter. Just a simple pile on bare earth can allow helpful organisms to aerate the compost.
2. Add compost in layers: If you add a bucket of kitchen scraps make sure you cover it over with a nice layer of carbon material. Too much of anything will slow down the process, so try and keep a balanced mix of carbon and nitrogen.
3. Keep it moist. Water occasionally, but avoid soaking it. Also use a plastic sheet to cover it; this will help retain moisture and heat, which is essential for a quick decomposition.
4. Turn your compost. Every week go in there with a fork or shovel and turn your soil. By turning your compost you allow it to aerate by adding oxygen to compliment the composting process. Top it off with more brown material this will keep fruit flies away.
5. Add it to the garden. Add between two to 3 inches of compost soil on
top of your new beds.
All household compost piles will be different and will depend on your space and what your house produces. Check the web for ideas that will suit your space. And when you are buying things ask yourself if it can be recycled or composted, and if it cant then cross if off your shopping list.