Tuesday, June 05, 2012

A Recipe for Rot

Yum!  How does rotting, bacteria-infested, decomposed organic material sound?  Not so appetizing?  Well, your garden soil will think it sounds like the perfect recipe to tempt the palate.  I guess it doesn't matter how I word it, it still sounds gross...

Two things:

You need a place to mix compost,

And you need a place to store compost.

Compost is:  a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter and is used for fertilizing and conditioning land.   (Thank you, Merriam Webster)

I have three piles of composted materials.  And they are just that.....piles.  In one pile I keep leaves that we have raked up in the fall, grass clippings during the summer, plus any branches or sticks or left over plants that are finished with their growing season.

In another pile I have.......well.......poop.  Cow poo, chicken poo, manure, if you will.

In yet another pile, I have kitchen scraps.  Fruits and vegetables, egg shells, anything that is raw and uncooked, free from any oils or meats.

I add to all of the above, year round.

Then I have a compost bin.  Compost bins come in many shapes and prices.  You can go super cheap and use old wood pallets like this one:

Or a simple wire bin like this one:

Or you can purchase or build a compost tumbler like this one:

Mine is the cheapest by far.  It looks like this.  My daddy gave it to me.  My dad's the best.  OK, he may or may not have given it to me because my mom bought it and he didn't like it, but whatever....it was free.  

Whatever choice you make in compost bins, they all work the same.  You want to be sure they have a way of air circulating through them, because bacteria needs to breathe.  Gross, again.  So, once you have a bin where you can mix your composted piles, you will want to layer your mix with manure, leaves and sticks, and kitchen scraps.  Over and over, one on top of the other.  You can also add in some good dirt you've already enhanced or some kind of garden soil.  I keep mine covered on the top, but there are air holes on all sides for circulation.  See all of that nice organic matter that is on its way to decomposed garden gold!

Once your compost is, well, composted, you want to take what is off the bottom, (hence the opening in the bottom of my bin) because it's the most broken down.  And you will probably be adding to the top of your bin all the time.  You can then add it to your soil around your plants, or it's best to mix it into the soil while preparing the ground for planting.  You can also use it in starter pots in the spring or in your container garden.  

Oh, and if you're lucky, you'll have a village of worms set up camp in your compost bin.  They eat the bacteria and then poop it out, creating even richer composted material.  Yes, there really is a lot of poop involved.  I am a mother of toddlers, it's life.  

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