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Monday, November 1, 2010

Composting.. smelly but very useful

Today we talked with the kids about composting. We read them a book about cycles and how our compost pile will help out our garden. Next we had them make a sma
ll compost "brew," they ripped up news paper and we put banana peels, bread and coffee grounds into a small pan for the kids to mix up and throw on our larger pile. Thinking about starting your own compost but not sure what you can or should not use? Afraid of the smell? Things that can be placed into a compost: fruits, veggies, eggshells (broken up), leaves, grass clippings, garden plants, weeds, shrub prunings, straw, hay, green comfrey leaves, pine needles, flowers, seaweed/ kelp, wood ash, chicken manure, coffee grounds, tea leaves, newspaper, shredded paper, cardboard, corn cobs, stalks, dryer lint, sawdust, wood chips and anything else of the sort. Do not compost meats, or bones they will only attract pests. As for your kitchen wastes, it is easiest to keep a large/ medium plastic container with a lid under your sink. This will reduce the smell as well as your trips out to your compost. How do you compost? Start a pile on the bare earth, this will allow worms and other organisms to aerate the compost. Next thing is to add compost materials in layers of moist and dry. You will want to keep the compost moist either by watering it or allowing mother nature to do the job. Make sure to cover your pile; wood, plastic sheet, carpet scarps; this helps retain moisture and heat, two key components in composting. Every few weeks you will want to turn the pile with a shovel or pitchfork. There are compost bins available to purchase if you wish not to manually turn your pile. These bins are specially made to aerate the compost and also keep everything contain instead of on the ground. Don't want the bug around keep a small pile of grass clipping near your pile and every time you add your kitchen waste cover it with the grass clippings. The largest hurdle for backyard and small compost is finding enough carbon-rich materials to balance out the nitrogen-rich materials such as the kitchen scraps or any fresh materials. If you do not think that you will have enough materials to make the compost, talk to your neighbor and work on it together in a central location. I hope that everyone now feels ready to start their own compost. Good luck to you all and wish us luck in creating ours!!

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