Wednesday, March 07, 2012

What Do Do Wednesday - Start Composting

It's that time of year.  Well, actually, it's always that time of year.  Time to start composting

I won't go into all the reasons why composting is good for you, and why composting is good for the earth, and why you're mother should have told you about composting.  I'll get into all that some other time.  For now, let's just dive into the nitty-gritty.  You wanna compost, here's how:
Just start.  It's gonna be a bit messy.  It's gonna be a bit hard.  It's gonna take work.  You will find your rhythm and create a good system and really like doing it.  But first, you have to just start. 
Step #1: You need stuff.  Grass clippings, leaves, hedge trimmings, yard stuff.  This is the base material.  If you can get yard waste, you have the goods.  Don't have lawn?  You can find bags of it curbside on garbage day.  (Later, I'll show what else can go in the compost). 
Step #2: Make a pile.  It can be on concrete, on the dirt, on grass, or directly in the garden.  A pile is the basic form of composting.  Even if you use a composter, it's just a container with a pile of stuff in it. 
Step #3: Stir the pile. This is not to be confused with 'turning the pile'.  All you really need to do is mix it up.  A little on one side, a little on the other side, a bit in the middle, and in thirty seconds, done.  This should be done a couple days a week.
Step #4: Water it.  After you stir the pile, turn on the hose, use your thumb, count to twenty, done.  Do this a couple days a week. 
Step #5: Repeat Step #3 & #4.  Do this as often as possible (about 3 days a week is ideal) and within 3-4 months, good compost will be ready to use.  The more you stir and water, the sooner your compost will be done. 
(Finished compost 3 ways - Raw, Sifted, Fine Sifted)
What you will need to compost:
Space - A compost pile will be about 3-4'feet wide and 2-3'feet high, and you need room for it.  The pile will grow, and then shrink as you begin to use it.  And stuff will spill, spread and go all over.  Make sure it won't be all over the lawn mower and the bikes.
Composting container - This can be a wood frame system, a tumbler, a static bin, a city provided bin, chicken wire frame, even an old cardboard box.  This is the tidy alternative to a pile.  It may cost money, or a bit of effort to build and/or acquire, but try what will work for you.  I recommend having at least two container systems.
Tools - Something sturdy and reliable to help stir your compost.  A spade shovel is good .  A metal rod is even better.  Typically made of rebar (about 4'ft long), this can be purchased at a hardware store or home improvement center.  Standard shovel will work, as well as a pitchfork, or garden hoe.  Even one of those fancy-schmancy aerator corkscrew tools will do the job.   As long as you have something that will move your compost material around, it's a start.  Oh, don't forget the broom.  You're gonna need it, a lot. 
Water - Without water, composting will likely not happen.  The closer the compost is to a hose source, the better.  Just one less obstacle to manage.  If it's a hassle, you probably won't bother.
Lastly, you need a place to use your compost, like a garden!  Once you start composting, it's only a matter of months when you'll be able to start using it, so be ready. Whether planting in ground or in a raised planter, compost is the magic ingredient.
(Raised beds at Xericopia full of good ol' compost soil and happy plants!)
What else can be added into the compost...(you asked for it)
Happy Composting!

1 comment:

rosiemomma said...

Starfish! Love it! This is a great and informative post that I have forwarded on to a couple of friends. thanks!!