My wife and I are going to be starting our garden again this upcoming spring and want to do some composting for it. I've been told that it can take a while to get the compost good enough to enough. How long before I plant my garden should I start to compost? It's only going to be about 128 sq. ft. Thanks for the help.
Hi Monk - I would start composting now. The compost will break down all winter and if you maintain it enough, it could be ready by spring when its time to start planting. The compost pile should stay moist (but not too wet) and it should be turned periodically. The more you turn it and the smaller the stuff is that you throw into it, the faster it will decompose. Even if you do nothing it will still decompose, it's just that it will go faster if you turn it every few days or so.
You will love composting! We've been doing it for 4 months now and it's so great not to create so much garbage. When we drive down the street on garbage day and see our measely, half full bag of garbage compared to our neighbors 2+ full bags it makes me feel really happy. Plus, with this new style of eating you will have tons of fresh kitchen scraps for your compost. We have to empty our bucket we keep by the sink every other day out to the compost pile in the back yard.
I agree - I love composting! We've been doing it about a year and a half now. Our garbage is significantly reduced. Between recycling and composting, there's not much else to throw away! There's so much that can go into the compost that you might not think of - dryer lint, the hair you clean out of your hair brush, paper towels, even 100% cotton rags can be composted (I think...). We found these dryer sheets made by Seventh Generation that are compostable. One less thing to throw away!
I guess I'm trying to find where to get started. I'm going to order the composter next week but am not sure what I actually can compost. I know some basics like kitchen scraps, etc., but does anyone know a good site for...I guess...the idiot composter? Where's a for dummies book when you need one :)
Composting is such an important practice: it not only recycles waste into vitamins for your plants, but it deacreases the amount of landfill space a household uses. You will be amazed at how much less often you'll be making trips to your garbage can. You can compost all organic material, but I would recommend keeping it vegan-no meat or dairy. You can compost everything from your garden (yard clippings, branches, etc.) and kitchen scraps. To keep your compost balanced- not too soupy, not too dry- be mindful of keeping an even green to brown waste ratio. Think of green waste as the more moist and acidic stuff, like orange peels, coffee grounds, dinner leftovers. Brown waste is drier material like dead leaves, tissue, dirt, sawdust, etc. It doesn't have to be perfect, just try to throw some yard material in occasionally. Also, remember the tougher something is to break in half, like a tree trunk, the longer it will take to decompose. Breaking more fibrous items into smaller pieces helps speed up the process. http://www.howtocompost.org/ is a good online resource.
You definitely want an even amount of brown and green, think layering, but you want even weight, not volume. The green stuff is going to weigh a lot more. Keep in mind that your compost should not smell, if it does you may have too much citrus, which you can remedy by throwing in some more brown matter like shredded newspaper, dried leaves, branches, etc. if you live in a colder climate where your compost will just sit and freeze throughout the winter, you want to start now. you can gather yard waste and keep them in big garbage bags for the spring so you will have brown matter when everything is in bloom. if you start your bin now you can throw those things, but once the air is too cold when things start to freeze or it snows, you wont be able to turn it. u can keep throwing stuff in there but you shouldnt turn it until the ground thaws in about march. if you want a quicker compost, turn it more often so it is a hot compost and make sure ll of your scraps are very small so they decompose faster, like shredding paper instead of putting it in whole. if you live in a 4 seasons climate it should take 6-12 months to get good compost. if you cant start until spring at least start collecting debris now!