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Composting: Create Robust, Beautiful, Nutritious Food

Recycling your food and plant waste by making compost for your garden is the single most important step to creating great tasting food and beautiful flowers. Composting feeds your crops, protects your plants against disease, drought, and insects, and improves the soil structure. It’s easy and very much worth any effort that you put into it. 

Composting is the single most important step in ensuring nutritious delicious food and beautiful flowers!

Composting is the single most important step in ensuring nutritious delicious food and beautiful flowers!

There are as many ways to compost as there are ways to garden. There are only a few things that you need to compost:

1. A receptacle or bin
2. Browns (things high in carbon like dead leaves, straw, or paper)
3. Greens (things high in nitrogen like kitchen wastes, grass clippings, and coffee grounds)
4. Air
5. Water

Yes, it is just that simple! Anyone can compost – even people living in apartments wanting to create potent fertilizer for their indoor plants or those on the balcony. You can compost as much or as little as you need.

Check out my composter giveaway HERE.

There are as many ways to compost as there are ways to garden.

There are as many ways to compost as there are ways to garden.

Hot Composting

I have a fairly large garden and many plants on my porches and indoors that need nourishment, therefore I  compost for volume. I start my pile with brown (leaves, straw, etc.) and layer green over the brown around a 3 to 1 ratio – more brown. I am able to get at least 6 good batches of compost during the growing season by hot composting.

By “cooking” the compost pile, you will create humus in a very short time (about 2 weeks). The key to keeping your pile hot is to turn it often and make sure that the soil is nice and moist. The compost should feel like a moist sponge.

Having your compost pile next to a water source will ensure keeping the optimal temperature and moisture level for microorganisms to to do their work in breaking down the organic matter.

Having your compost pile next to a water source will ensure keeping the optimal temperature and moisture level for microorganisms to to do their work in breaking down the organic matter.

I have a covered bin and it is near a water source. I keep it around 3′ x 3′ x 3′. This is the optimal size to keep the compost pile hot and for turning it to keep the pile aerated. Compost needs air for the microorganisms to do the work of turning the raw organic matter into humus.

Depending on whether you have a tumbler, a plastic trash can or just a pile in the yard, you will need to turn your pile with a rake, or turn the tumbler to keep air moving in the compost. As you turn the pile and keep it moist, check the temperature of the pile and try to keep it at a temperature of 140 degrees. If it is too cool, give it a turn and make sure the moisture level is right.
All you need to compost is a receptacle, brown matter, green matter, air, and water!!

All you need to compost is a receptacle, brown matter, green matter, air, and water!!

Cool Composting

Many people don’t want to take the time to turn their piles and choose to compost an easier way – cool composting. I have a cool compost pile as well as a hot. Granted, it will take 6 months to a year to produce finished compost, but a cool pile allows for material to be added gradually and spares disease-fighting microbes that die during hot composting.

The cool method of composting is as easy as picking up grass clippings and leaves from your yard and creating a pile with them then taking kitchen scraps to the pile as you have them. Once the pile reaches the optimal size (3′ X 3′ X 3′), turn it, cover it, check it for needed moisture every once in a while and wait until it decomposes and turns to humus.

If at any time your hot or cool pile gets slimy, try adding more nitrogen rich substance and incorporating it into the pile. You can add soil to the pile too;

Small Scale or Composting Inside

Some of you may not have the need for a lot of compost. You may only have house plants or a few potted herbs and vegetables. I recommend purchasing a small tumbler for your kitchen or making your own.

You can use old coffee cans. Poke holes in the lid of the can. Put your kitchen waste in the can along with about a cup of coffee grounds and a cup of soil. As you add kitchen waste shake or turn the matter in the can. As you walk by your can, turn it and it should stay nice and aerated. One hint – chop your matter before putting it in the can for faster compost.

Wherever you are, whatever your compost needs, COMPOSTING IS WELL WORTH THE EFFORT! There’s a reason it is called BLACK GOLD!

For more interesting and informative articles, check out BonniePlants.com.

7 responses to “Composting: Create Robust, Beautiful, Nutritious Food”

  1. Art Webb says:

    Thank you for the composter giveaway.

  2. Snake Plisken says:

    I’m far too lazy to have a compost pile. That’s why my gardens are close to the house. I throw the veggie left overs right into the three raised bed gardens I have and let old man Winter break down the organic stuff for tilling in the spring. I also have my neighbor load up a five gallon galvanized trash bucket with the ashes from his wood fired stove that I apply once a year.

    Of course I don’t throw any food waste into the gardens during the growing season and do have a plastic bin to compost the summer veggies for use in fall but I just don’t have the time or space to do a good composting pile.

    Like I said, I’m pretty lazy when it come to composting!:)

    best, Snake Plisken.

    • stacy says:

      I think that’s just awesome Snake Plisken .If it works, that’s the way to go. I think if more people thought like you, they would compost. Sometimes people make it so hard; there are as many ways to compost as there are to garden. Thanks for commenting.

  3. northforknut says:

    Thank you for the Composter giveaway, I’m new to composting and this would make a great start!!!

  4. Greg says:

    Do you have plans available for the composting shed shown? Looks like a great attractive addition!

  5. […] is merely the natural process of recycling organic material such as leaves and vegetable scraps into a rich soil amendment. It’s so rich, in fact, that […]

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