Think you’re too busy to compost? Today I’m going to challenge that excuse with a busy person’s guide to composting. No watering, no turning and no temperature taking required.
Why You Should Compost
Before I tell you how easy and quick composting can be, I’m going to give you a few reasons why you should compost.
Composting reduces the amount of garden waste that you need to haul away, burn or otherwise dispose of.
It reduces food waste too, which means you wont need to empty your kitchen garbage can as frequently and you’ll have fewer cans full of trash to haul to the curb for the garbage man to take away each week. If your garbage collection company charges you by the can like mine does, composting can save you a little money.
And while we’re talking about reducing waste, it’s worth mentioning that all the food we throw into our garbage cans is filling up our landfills and speeding up global warming too. So if you’re eco-conscious, composting is just another way to be kind to our environment. Source
While reducing waste alone is a great reason to compost, there’s one more reason that makes it even more worthwhile.
It’s the fact that compost is like black gold to your garden!
Compost improves soil structure and fertility, helps plants retain moisture and provides a slow release of important micro-nutrients and macro-nutrients to your plants.
A Busy Persons Guide To Composting
Composting is simply the breakdown of organic materials by microorganisms. It happens all the time in nature without any human intervention. But gardeners can step in and intervene a little, or a lot, and speed things up a bit.
To compost, the busy person’s way, you’ll only be intervening a little bit. And you’ll need just four things: a suitable place to pile things up, organic matter, a storage container in or near your kitchen and patience.
A Place to Pile Things
The best location to pile your compost is near your garden. You can simply pile it up in a corner of your yard, but I like to keep ours a little more contained.
We used this makeshift compost bin for a few years until an unfortunate accident with a burn barrel led to its demise. It’s was nothing more than some skids nailed and wired together, with chicken wire strung across the front.
After it burned down, we started using the metal housing from an old refrigerator we had lying around waiting to go to the scrapyard. We drilled some holes in the bottom so excess water and rain would drain off. It’s not pretty, but it works.
If you live in a subdivision, you might want to come up with something that will be a little nicer looking than these two options, unless making the neighbors or your homeowners association angry is your thing.
Organic matter is: matter composed of organic compounds that come from the remains of plants and animals and their waste products.
But not just any organic matter will do when it comes to composting. There are some kinds of organic matter that don’t belong in your compost pile. Meat and bones are a no no. So are dairy products and cooking oils. Diseased plants are a bad idea too. Seedy or rhizomatous weeds like purslane, Bermudagrass and bindweed are best avoided. Any herbicide treated lawn clippings or chemically treated wood chips are out. Pig manure isn’t advisable for use on a vegetable garden, as it can still harbor harmful to human pathogens even after decomposition. And it should go without saying, but human and pet waste don’t belong in your compost pile either, unless your pet happens to be a chicken.
The kind of organic matter you want in your compost pile can be divided into two types: green matter and brown matter. Ideally your compost pile should contain a 50/50 mix of each type.
Stinky compost is the result of too much green matter and not enough brown matter. So if your compost pile becomes a little offensive, toss in some cardboard, hay or other brown matter to solve this problem in no time.
Green matter includes: fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds,tea bags, egg shells, fresh grass clippings, green weeds and and manure from livestock.
Brown matter includes: dry leaves, hay, straw, wood chips, paper, coffee filters, plain white paper towels, dried grass clippings, small twigs, peanut shells, wood ashes, dryer lint, newspaper, pine cones, and shredded cardboard.
Smaller pieces of organic matter break down faster than larger ones. Take corn cobs for example. Whole cobs break down a lot slower than cobs that have been ground up. Cardboard is the same way. So if you have the time and equipment to break things up into smaller pieces, it might be worthwhile. We never bother because we are too
A Storage Container
Unless you plan to head out to your compost pile after every meal or snack, you’re going to want somewhere to store all the scraps and bits you’re saving for a day or two. For convenience, you’ll want this storage container to be in or near your kitchen.
Then, every couple of days, you simply walk to the compost pile and dump the containers contents in. It’s as easy as taking out a the trash.
When we first began composting, we used an old plastic pretzel barrel for temporary storage. But soon, the plastic started to take on a rather unpleasant smell because sometimes we were
too lazy too busy to go empty it.
Then we tried gallon sized zip top bags, but they filled up quickly and it felt wasteful using so many.
So now, we use a small galvanized garbage can with a lid and a handle that sits just outside our back door off the kitchen.
The metal can works really well for us. Metal doesn’t retain smells like plastic and if we get busy and forget to empty it onto our compost pile for a few days, the odor doesn’t ruin dinner.
The last thing a busy person needs to successfully compost is patience.
Simply pile up green and brown organic matter until you have a large pile, or an old metal refrigerator housing full in our case, and wait. It will likely take 9 months to a year before your compost is ready.
We find it helpful to have two compost piles going. One that we are actively adding browns and greens to and one that is already piled high and resting until it’s finished.
If you’re not a busy person and you want to water, turn and take your composts temperature to speed up the process, go here for instruction on doing so. But if your busy. Just wait and let nature take it’s course.
When Is The Compost Finished
Compost is finished when it looks, feels and smells like rich, dark brown earth. On average it takes 9 to 12 months using the method described above.
Don’t be tempted to use immature compost. In soil it continues to decay, a process requiring both nitrogen and oxygen. When these elements are being used to degrade organic material, they’re unavailable to plants. Which is the opposite effect we are going for.
Start your compost pile today, your garden and the environment will thank you for it.
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