Composting is cool!

Hello fellow gardeners!

It is raining today, so I did not go out to the garden to water.  It is supposed to be sunny and cooler tomorrow, so I’ll try to get out there with my camera in the morning.  Today, I’d like to move away from my general format and talk a little bit about composting.

Composting seems to have become the new cool thing to do.  It is green, it is good for the garden, it is good for the earth, etc.  But what is composting all about?

Here at Wild Roots, we have two Earth Machine compost bins.  We have decided to only compost yard waste.  Food scraps are not allowed in our composters!  Now, food composting is an excellent way to lower your footprint, but we decided not to allow food composting in our two small bins for several reasons.  First, food scraps bring critters.  We do not want our bins destroyed by squirrels, raccoons, or opossums.  Second, our two (tiny-in-comparison) composters simply cannot handle the quantity of food scraps produced by the University, or even just Norris.

Compost bins work best when they are fed green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) materials.

Yard Greens: Flowers, vegetables, plant trimmings, hedge clippings, grass (in small amounts)

Yard Browns: Leaves, straw, hay, small twigs, dried grass and weeds

Composting is very easy, it happens all by itself!  That said, there are a few things you can do to help the composting process.  First: Cut up everything you throw into the composter.  Second: Each time you add to the composter, stir it up!  This will mix in fresh materials with partially composted ones.  It also adds oxygen to the mix, which is definitely important.  Do not be afraid to add water!  The composting bin will get pretty hot during the summer months which will dry out the contents inside.  You should keep the material in your composter “about as moist as a wrung-out sponge.”

After a few months, the bottom of the composter should have completely decomposed material.  It should look much like soil, and you should not be able to identify what you’re looking at.  Once you have reached this stage, you can harvest the finished product and spread it over your garden. 

As a nutrient-rich soil amendment, compost can help your garden be more productive.  It is a great, if sometimes gross, material due to the natural decomposition of yard waste by microbes, worms, and other organisms.  When you mix it with garden soil, it will revitalize it, make it more productive, and help it retain moisture more effectively.

Once you have harvested your compost, you can mix it into your vegetable/flower garden in the spring or fall.  You can also spread compost onto your lawn, but it is best to screen it first in this case.  You can also put compost around trees and shrubs.

Composting is a great way to lessen your impact on the environment.  If you choose to compost with kitchen waste, you may be able to reduce the amount of garbage you generate by up to 80%. 

So, in the end, composting is cool!

In other news about the garden: Ann and I planted marigolds on Monday to ward off rabbits.  We got traditional marigolds and Vanilla Marigolds.  When we checked back on Tuesday, the rabbits had eaten the vanilla marigolds.  That is not the point!  They are supposed to hate the smell and run away.  So that particular attempt was not a success, but at least they are eating the inedible flowers instead of our kale.

Happy Gardening!

Adrienne W.

P.S. USA! USA! USA!

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