May 2nd, 2012
It’s funny, when people say they have too much garbage. With all the composting and recycling that goes on at our place, there barely seems enough left over for the garbage can.
Our compost is actually divided into two areas. I have an indoor bin that sits on my counter, for many of my kitchen scraps. This one houses thousands of worms (yes, worms), that make short work out of veggie scraps, egg shells and coffee grounds. The outdoor compost is much larger and needs a little bit more care. The barn gets a good cleaning, to add to the pile once a year, and then anything larger like grasses, weeds, dead plants, newspaper and an occasional bunch of overgrown veg from the garden-all get tossed into the heap.
I consider compost to be garden gold. If I had to choose just one thing to do to my planting area, it would be composting. No matter how hard we try, the pile never seems to go far enough. Indoors, I make compost tea for the houseplants, and the outdoor pile has to cover all my garden beds. That is no small feat. Usually, I end up using all of my own, and then adding mulch over the top of everything else. We do have a municipal mulch pile, but I wouldn’t want to put that on any edible areas that I grow, since I am not sure what exactly gets composted in that one.
Another place to make compost, is to make shallow trenches between your garden beds and fill them with wood chips. I find that this makes a sturdy pathway for the season, and by the late fall, this is broken down enough that it can be turned under before a cover crop is planted.
If you have the opportunity to make a compost pile, I urge you to start one. There really is not correct size; select a place that is easy to get to, yet out of the way. A compost tumbler style on the porch is kind of nice, or make a circle of chicken wire even. Fill with scraps from vegetables, fruit peelings and cores, grass clippings and leaves. Keep the pile slightly damp and turn it once a week. You will see it breaking down by the end of the of the first week. Avoid adding meat, grease, pet waste or things that won’t break down at all, and the pile shouldn’t attract any animal attention.
Once it is black and crumbly, you have the best fertilizer there is..for free!