How and Why to Compost

Are you an avid gardener? Have you heard of composting? Perhaps you know something about it, but have not yet taken the plunge yet. Here are some very good reasons why you should start your own compost pile:

Benefits:

• Eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers- hopefully you weren’t using these anyway!
• Higher production of crops- your garden loves this stuff.
• Cost effective- cheaper than buying fertilizer.
• Keeps water run-off safer- reduces bad things that wind up in your well water.
• Reduces your overall waste/trash- Reduce your trash by a large percentage.
• Reduces landfill wastes- Less waste going out, is less waste going into the landfill.
• It’s fun!

If you are ready to start your own compost, you will need to decide on a bin or pile. Bins keep things much neater and sometimes make it easier to turn the compost when needed. If you have neighbors that may see your compost then a bin is a nicer sight. You can use any type of premade bin, or a wooden crate. Anything that contains your materials, allows air flow, and usually had a lid to control moisture. Now once you have decided where and what to put it in you can start filling it up.

You want to add a good mixture of brown and green materials, this ensures the correct temperature and moisture to start the breaking down process. Layering the different types of materials is best for aerobic processing. You want enough air circulation to promote faster breakdown and less vinegar-type smells. If you do not have enough air flow the process takes longer and becomes a stinky, messy pile.

As far as what is green and what is brown, it is just a bit of common sense.

Green:

• Young weeds without seeds
• Leaves and grass clippings, plant remains
• Veggie & scraps, teabags, coffee grounds

Brown:

• Fall leaves
• Dead plants & weeds
• Sawdust
• Cardboard
• Old flowers
• Straw & hay

You will add these items in layers, brown then green. Adding in layers and making sure things are not in large clumps or smashed down ensures good air flow and moisture content. Then you allow it to ‘cook’ as you add more layers and turn it once a week or so.

You also can start your compost with a small amount of organic compost that is already ‘cooked’. Look for a New Orleans garden supply that makes their own local, organic compost. This is also where you want to go if you cannot or do not want to compost on your own.

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