Composting

Where to Start
Start by deciding what type of compost bin or pile you want to create.  You will want to choose a composter that is appropriate for the size of your yard or patio.  There are compost bins available that can fit in very small spaces and break down organic matter quickly if turned on a regular basis.  Worm bins will be especially effective for digesting kitchen scraps quickly and turning them to soil.  Most compost bins you would purchase come with instructions.  For ideas on what kind of compost bin to buy, see some recommendations below. Choose from a variety of choices…

The larger your compost pile, the hotter it can become in the middle and the more quickly it will break down.  As a general rule, you want to add equal parts nitrogen (the green stuff such as grass clippings and kitchen scraps) and carbon (the brown stuff such as dried leaves and newspaper) and you should keep the pile moist.  Lasagna gardening is one way to compost in place of you have the space in your yard to do it.  However, many people prefer to buy a compost bin to keep things tidy.

Hummus
A primary objective of composting is to create humus in your garden. Where vegetation abounds, such as in woodland areas, the soil is rich in humus and very fertile. Humus enables soil to nurture plants by creating a loose structure that holds moisture and drains well. Humus also creates an environment that supports living organisms that convert soil nutrients into a form plant roots can use, building soil fertility. Through bacteria, fungi, and other resident micro-life activity, decomposing organic material becomes humus.

Compost tea

Compost tea is a replacement for chemical-based fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides.  It increases plant growth, provides nutrients to plants and soil, provides beneficial organisms, and helps to suppress diseases.  Compost tea is made by soaking or steeping compost in water. You can then spray your tea on the leaves or apply it to the soil.

Using Worms for Composting
You can build or buy a container. See some bins below…

If you are making a worm bin, it can be made of wood or plastic about 8-12 inches deep. Large plastic bins like the ones you get for storage can work nicely. Drill 8 to 12 holes in the bottom of your box. Fill the box with moist bedding made of shredded newspaper and cardboard, shredded fall leaves, chopped-up straw and other dead plants, or dried grass clippings. The overall moisture level should be like a wrung-out sponge. Add some redworms (500-2,000 redworms). Redworms (“red wigglers”) are best for worm composting. For one pound per day of food waste, you’ll need two pounds of worms (about 2,000). If you are unable to get this many worms at the start, reduce the amount of food waste until the population increases.

Worms like a moist, dark environment, as worms’ body surfaces must be moist for them to breathe. Pull aside some of the bedding, bury some food waste (fruit and vegetable waste) and cover it up with the bedding. Add one cup of soil or sand which will be important for your worms’ digestive process. Cover the bin to conserve moisture and provide darkness. Indoors, place a sheet of dark plastic or burlap on top of the bedding. Outdoors, use a solid lid to keep out rodents and rain. Worm bins can be located in the basement, shed, garage, balcony or kitchen counter. They need to be kept out of the hot sun, heavy rain and cold. When temperatures drop below 40 degrees, bins should be indoors, heated or well-insulated.

After about six weeks, there should be quite a lot of worm castings – dark material that’s great fro your garden – ready to use. Dump the bin’s entire contents onto a large plastic sheet. Use sunshine or a light bulb to drive the worms to the bottom of the piles. Worms don’t like bright light and will move away from it. Scoop off the tops of each pile until all you have left is the worms. Most children love to help! Watch out for the tiny, lemon-shaped worm cocoons that contain the baby worms. Mix a little of the finished compost in with the new bedding of the next bin.


Starting Organic Garden | Organic Garden Composting | Organic Compost Tea
Edible Garden Composting | Edible Garden Design | Edible Garden Layout