Spring is a wonderful time of year for gardeners. All of the hard work done in the late summer and early fall begins to pay off and flowers bloom, trees grow leaves, grass grows and all things beautiful are in the garden. But one of the most important things you can do for your spring garden now is to start a compost pile. Since it takes a few months for waste to become compost, now is the time to start your compost pile so it has time to breakdown and become some of the most nutritious additions to your soil.
Compost is made up of a variety of items, both from your kitchen as well as your yard. Kitchen scraps such as vegetable peelings, fruit waste, tea bags (remove the staples), egg shells, coffee grounds, etc make excellent compost waste, along with grass cuttings, tree trimmings, leaves and other organic materials from your yard. Be careful not to put tree branches in your compost pile unless you’ve really chopped or ground them up. Otherwise, they’ll stay tree branches. You can also put scrunched up newspaper or brown paper bags and cardboard egg boxes, but know that these things take a little longer to rot so it could delay the “readiness” of your compost a bit.
You DO NOT want to put the following in your compost pile; meat of any kind, oil of any kind, dairy products, animal (or human) waste (including cat litter), weeds (such as dandelions and thistle), and of course any type of plastic, metal, glass, etc.
Normally compost can take 6 to 9 months for before it is ready for the soil, but there are a few things you can do to speed up the process a bit.
. Put your compost pile in a sunny spot. This will help the waste break down more quickly.
. Keep paper and fallen leaves out of the compost pile. While good for compost, these take longer to break down; it will take your pile longer to be soil-ready.
. Turn the pile once a week or more. Turning allows the compost to “cook” faster by aerating it.
. Add a little misting of water once a week or more. Water will help the breakdown process. Water is also important to help cool off the pile. As the waste breaks down, it heats up. You don’t want it getting above about 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
. Add a little dirt once in a while, but not too much; just a shovel full will do.
The Happy Gardener has an excellent compost bin (shown above) that you can use instead of putting a pile in your yard unprotected (generally not a great idea if you have mice or small animals around). Our backyard compost bin is high quality and made from recycled plastic. Its 11.4 cubic foot capacity can serve a household of up to five people and it has a locking lid that helps keep animals out and the compost in. It also has dual slide up doors that allow for even compost removal and custom placement including into a corner. It measures 11.4 cubic feet, 28” x 28” x 32" high and assembles quite easily with no tools needed.
We also have an odorless kitchen compost caddy. Made from recycled plastic, it has a strong, molded handle and includes a carbon filter in the lit that reduces odors. The snap-lock lid opens with one hand and it has a wide opening for easy access and cleaning. Dishwasher safe, it also has holes in the back for mounting on a wall or cabinet if you prefer. It measures 8 ½” x 9” x 11” and holds 2.4 gallons of kitchen waste. I love this product for two reasons; the filter keeps the nasty odor in instead of stinking up the kitchen and I don’t have to go out to the compost pile every day to take waste out. The caddy can hold enough that I only have to take it out every few days, even once a week.
I can’t stress enough how beneficial compost can be for your garden, whether you plant all over your yard or in containers. Adding some of the rich, luscious (for your plants) compost to your soil, along with some SeaResults once a month, will do a world of good for your garden and help keep it healthy all season.
We also have a variety of items to help you with your compost once you’ve got it going. Take a look at http://www.thehappygardener.com/ and click on “Shop with us”. There you will find a section of composting and rain barrel kits, along with accessories.
Don’t forget, if you’d like to place an order, use my name (Lauri Brow) as the Garden Consultant so your order is processed appropriately.
Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener