From Garbage to Garden

If you go online and search for a recipe for vegetable soup, you’ll probably find a whole slew of recipes, each with its own set of ingredients and instructions. Well, the same thing is true if you decide you want to create compost potting soil from your household garbage and yard waste.

Once folks get involved in making compost from garbage, they start to tweak their methods according to what works for them. You’ll probably want to do the same once you get the hang of composting basics presented in this article.

There are some fancy composting containers that you can buy that will make it easy to aerate and turn your compost regularly. However, all you really need is a nice shady spot (to keep your pile moist) where you can make a pile of garbage.

Kitchen scraps of cooked or raw vegetables and fruits along with grass clippings, soft (not woody) cuttings from plants and shrubs, and manure are great for your compost pile.

Leaves work fine also, but are slower to decay and will make the process take a longer period of time. Helpful bacteria will take up residence in your compost pile and begin the process of changing the mix into a rich, nutritious soil. Bones, meat, and animal fat should not be included in your compost pile.

Your pile should have an indented top to collect and hold as much rainwater as possible. The bacteria that is working so hard for you likes both oxygen and a moist environment, so make sure your pile is not too densely packed by adding sod or soft garden clippings.

If you have a long period with no rainfall, water your compost pile. This pile should not be over five feet tall. When it gets to a desired height, cover it with a layer of soil.

While your first compost pile decomposes, go ahead and start another.

By having two (or several) at various stages of decay, you’ll be assured of a constant supply of rich humus for your garden. You can turn your pile occasionally (every month or two) to ensure that the lower or inside materials get closer to the surface for those oxygen-loving bacteria to attack them.

However, if you prefer, you can use a different method which eliminates the need for turning or watering the material. Instead, cover the pile with a sheet of black polyethylene and weigh the plastic down on all sides to keep it secure.

By holding in moisture and absorbing heat from the sun, this method encourages a different kind of bacteria to work on the decay of your pile. This bacteria, also friendly, is called “anaerobic” because it lives in environments with little to no oxygen.

Depending on where you live and the materials you added to your compost pile, it can take up to nine or ten months for your compost to be ready to use in your garden. When it has the appearance of rich, dark soil and is crumbly in your hand, it can be used.

Add generous amounts of compost to your existing soil for your garden. The composted material helps retain moisture, increases humus content, supplies plant food, allows air to enter the soil, prevents crusting, reduces erosion, controls soil temperatures, lessens evaporation, and discourages weeds. All of these wonderful advantages from a pile of garbage!