Grow a Greener Garden with Backyard Composting
January 21, 2014
Composting is a natural process of recycling organic material such as leaves and vegetable scraps into a rich soil full of nutrients for gardening purposes. The age-old agricultural practice has quite a long list of benefits. Here are a few as stated by the EPA:
- Prevent Pollution – when organic materials are diverted from landfills, this avoids the production of methane and leachate formulation in landfills. Compost has the ability to prevent pollutants in storm water runoff and even prevents erosion.
- Use Less Water – Fertile soil full of nutrients provided by composting has greater water retention requiring less frequent watering for your plants and vegetables.
- Economic Benefits – Using compost is a low-cost alternative to artificial soil amendments. It’s free soil for your garden! Your plants, fruits and vegetables will be receiving nutrient-rich soil which may make for a healthier and heartier harvest.
- Cleans Up Contaminated Soil – The composting process has been shown to absorb odors and treat semi-volatile and volatile organic compounds in contaminated soils.
Types of Composting
There are a few different ways to compost depending on your lifestyle. After some research on the topic, we found the suggestions made by Bonnie Plants seem to be the most simple to create. They explain that your options for home composting in a backyard would be to create a free-standing compost heap, buy composting bins or make your own out of lumber and wire-mesh fencing.
What to Compost
When it comes to what to compost, here is what we found is suggested by most experts:
- straw (what, no straw laying around your house?)
- egg shells
- coffee grounds
- fruit peels
- vegetable peels
Tips for Backyard Composting:
- 50/50 Brown to Green – Keep a proper ratio of browns to greens. Browns come from trees such as dead leaves or branches, while greens are fresher materials like grass clippings and kitchen waste.
- Water – Keep your compost moist but not wet. Moist as a wrung-out sponge. If it gets too dry the process doesn’t work but if it gets too wet, you’ll have stinky compost on your hands.
- Aerate – Allow for oxygen by mixing it with a garden tool. The compost materials will decompose faster. The little helpful microbes need oxygen to be healthy while they are doing their job.
- Temperature – For proper decomposition of the compost matter, high temperatures are needed. Try to maintain a temperature range of 135º – 160º F.
- Materials to Avoid – Meats, greasy ingredients, fats, bones, black walnut leaves and twigs, dairy products,pet droppings or plants that have been treated with pesticides. Composting doesn’t have to smell bad!
After learning more about composting, will you give it a try?
photo credit: jessica mullen via photopin cc
photo credit: EraPhernalia Vintage . . . (playin' hook-y ;o) via photopin cc
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