This week, we focus on the basics of making compost and how to do it quickly! it’s my all time favorite soil amendment.
Show Notes – BHG004 – How to Make Compost, and do it Quickly
Welcome to Burpee Home Garden’s Tip of the Week Podcast. If you listened to last week’s podcast you know I talked about some of the reasons I love compost so much. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the single most important amendment we can put into our soil. I also shared one of my favorite sayings; Feed the soil, and let the soil feed the plants! And compost does that better than anything else!
Now, I want to talk about how you can make it at home for free, and how to speed up the process as much as possible. Based on the questions I get all the time, a lot of people think composting is too complicated so they never get started. Others think that composting can smell badly, and attract all kinds of unwanted pests. Well I’m here to tell you, neither has to be true.
First understand that composting happens in nature constantly, without any help from us, so It really a simple process. We just need to intervene to speed up the process and make more of it. And as for the smell and attracting pests, it’s an easy fix and I’ll tell you more about that in a minute.
The most basic compost piles are just that; heaps of yard waste and kitchen scraps. There aren’t any fancy systems, or bins, to facilitate the process. It’s how I’ve done it for years. Yes, more elaborate systems can be built or purchased to contain the mix, and they look nice, but they’re really not necessary.
But once you’ve decided to make compost, you should know about a few essential elements for composting to occur most efficiently: you’ll need carbon (which generally is the brown stuff, like dead leaves and twigs), and nitrogen (the green stuff, like grass clippings and vegetable and salad scraps from the kitchen) plus sufficient air and water. That’s it; that’s the four main components of making compost.
So to get started, we’re simply talking about an accumulation of green and brown waste. If you want a guideline of how much of each to add, shoot for about 4 parts brown to one part green. But again, don’t get hung up on the details. You’ll still have compost eventually.
Almost anything from the yard or garden can be added like grass clippings, leaves and small twigs. But try to avoid adding diseased plants because the pathogens may not be killed in the composting process. And personally, I choose not to include weeds into the mix because the seeds can persist for a really long time, and they might survive through the composting process, only to be spread to other areas of the garden with the addition of the new compost. And here’s another tip: keep branches that are thicker than a pencil out if you can since they’ll take longer to break down. Similarly, the smaller the components going in, the faster they break down and the sooner you’ll be adding finished compost for those Burpee Home Garden plants to enjoy!
As for items from the house and kitchen, include everything that came from a plant. And that includes coffee grounds, tea bags and paper towel rolls. As for what to avoid, don’t add meat, fish, animal fat, bones and dairy products. Those are the things that can cause your compost to smell temporarily and attract outdoor pests. It’s that simple!
Once you have your compost started, if you want to speed up the process, and who doesn’t, mix it up every week or so to introduce more oxygen to the center, and spray with water so that it maintains the moistness of a damp sponge. And how big should your compost pile get? Shoot for about 4 cubic feet. That seems to be the ideal size for best results.
And that’s about all there is to it. Your compost is ready to use when your original components are unrecognizable! And the end-result is the best natural fertilizer and soil conditioner available – it’s recycling at it’s best and the best amendment for your Burpee Home Garden Plants to thrive!
In our next podcast, we’ll talk about raised bed gardening and how they can provide the ultimate control to the ideal growing environment.Beyond that, we’re creating a whole series of podcasts to get you off to a great start with your Burpee Home Garden plants and what to do throughout the entire growing season, every step of the way. You can find them in the iTunes store for free or at burpeehomegardens.com where you’ll find great ideas and inspiration online, any time!
We’ll be right back here next week for another Burpee Home Gardens Tip of the Week.