Turn Garbage into Gold: Compost
Compost equals gold
Having 5 acres in the middle of farm country means you need to know how to garden or at least look like you know what you are doing. So being the perfectionist that I am, I decided to do some research and what I found above all else, is that I need to compost. Especially since the ground we live on is not a rich and fertile soil. The added nutrients from my compost will provide a suitable environment for growing our vegetables and herbs. Composting is the natural breakdown of organic matter that will produce a dark, nutrient rich soil that your plants will love.
What’s the best way to start?
The first thing you need to decide is where your compost will be located. Regardless of the size of your space there is a composting solution for you. In our case I didn’t have to worry about neighbors. I knew I wanted it close to our garden, chickens and greenhouse all of which still need to be built. So I just estimated the location based on our plans. Once you decide on the location, then start to look at different types of compost containers. This is where I started to get overwhelmed! OMG, there are so many different types of compost bins that I think I spent about 40 hours on Pinterest and the internet looking at the different types.
- The Enclosed Bin: this is good for people with limited space and keeping things neat.
- The Tumbler Bin: can be used in small spaces as well as larger yards. They come in different sizes and can make the process pretty easy.
- The Slatted Wooden Bin or Wire Bin: this is good if you have larger space and it can be either 3 or 4 sided and can encourage greater air circulation.
You can even just have piles in your yard if you don’t mind it looking a bit messy….that would never fly with me! Since we had some pallets sitting next to the shop I decided to go the easy route since chances were good that I will have to move it at some point in the near future and built a slatted 3-sided box out of the pallets.
Materials to compost
Essentially all organic matter will compost. Even some things that I would never think of like human hair! Generally compost material can be categorized as brown or green and you use both to help you create the right bacteria and micro-organisms needed to create your “gold”. While you can pretty much compost anything, there are a few things that you shouldn’t put into your compost bin:
- Dog or cat poop (horse, cow and goat poop is good to add, but the poop from your dog or cat contains bacteria and microorganisms that you don’t want infecting the food you grow)
- Large branches (they take forever to compost and will affect how soon you can use your compost)
- Meat and fish scraps (while these are organic and will compost, you will also attract every mouse, rat, fox, coyote, etc. within your area. Not to mention the smell!)
- Glossy or coated paper (these won’t decompose properly and have toxins you don’t want in your compost)
- Coal fire ash from charcoal or briquets (this contains sulphur which will make your soil too acidic which will harm your plants)
- Sawdust from treated wood (do not add sawdust from any wood that has been varnished, pressure treated or painted. The toxins will not compost and will get into the soil and affect the nutrients and microorganisms in your soil and plant health)
If you stick with natural ingredients without additives or treatments you should be good. This site gave me a ton of information on what to use and what not to use in my compost and anything else you would ever want to know. I have a container on my counter I use to capture any kitchen material and bring out to my bin every few days.
Just start composting!
It’s easy to get caught up in the science of it and start to get a bit intimidated….DON’T! Just build or buy something to get you started and go from there. It is definitely an art, but you only learn by doing and trying different things. As a perfectionist that likes make sure everything is exact and perfect, this is the hardest part for me…..JUST DO IT! My compost bin is simple and I am just trying different things to see if they work. So far I am pleased with the results and continue to learn as I go.
The video shows how I aerate my pile every week.
We would love to hear about your compost adventures and see your compost bins in the comments below.