As the weather continues to warm and Mother's Day approaches, I decided to build my mother a compost bin and log shelter to help fertilize her garden and put her compostable materials to good use. I started building today but more importantly, put together a starter guide for her so she knows what to do when it is built. Here, I share the guide with you so you can all start your own compost as well.
- Compost should be 3 parts “brown” (dead leaves,
dead plants, straw, shredded paper, shredded twigs, pine needles, sawdust from
untreated wood) which is high in carbon and 1 part “green” (fresh grass
clippings, garden prunings, green weeds, manure, seaweed or pond algae,
non-meat, non-dairy kitchen scraps) which is high in nitrogen
- Do not use house pet feces!!!
- You should bury all
the plant food waste in the center of the pile and cover the top of the pile
with a one-inch layer of soil, dry leaves, or finished compost to avoid
- One way to test if
your compost is finished is to seal a small sample in a plastic bag for 24 to
48 hours. If no strong odors are released when you open the bag, the compost is
- Chop or shred large
pieces to 12 inches or shorter (thick, woody branches should be chipped, ground
up, or left out).
- One of the most
common mistakes in composting is letting the pile get too dry. Your compost
pile should be moist as a wrung-out sponge. A moisture content of 40 to 60 percent
is preferable. To test for adequate moisture, reach into your compost pile and
grab a handful of material and squeeze it; if a few drops of water come out,
it's probably got enough moisture, if it doesn't, add water. When you water, it
is best to put a hose into the pile so that you aren't just wetting the top.
You can also water as you are turning the pile.
- Not all bugs are
bad. In fact, all bugs play a role in nature. Many compost pile organisms eat
other organisms and turn them into compost. At least one-third of the volume in
a compost pile is made up of the dead, decomposed bodies of soil
organisms. Still, you don't want just
any old bugs in your compost pile. So lets learn about what you might find in
your compost pile so you'll be able to decide whether there really is a problem
or not. The food web decomposition
process is divided into three levels:
- Level 1 is made
up of herbivores: bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, nematodes, mites, snails,
slugs, earthworms, millipedes, sowbugs and worms. Note that some types of mites
- Level two is
comprised of the organisms that eat level one organisms. It includes both herbivores and carnivores:
nematodes, protozoa, rotifers, soil flatworms, springtails, some types of
mites, and feather-winged beetles.
three is comprised of the organisms that eat level two organisms. It includes centipedes, mites, rove beetles,
ants, spiders, psuedoscorpions and earwigs