Composting!

This spring my big goal is to plant a garden. The last time I had a garden was when I was about ten and my mom squared off a little section for each of us kids to have a small garden. Fun times, but I don’t really know how to grow things, so this will be a new adventure for me. I’m excited!

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So I started by Google-ing “gardening,” and it was just so overwhelming. The sites talk about when to plant, and how much water different plants need, and how much sunlight, and what plants to plant next to each other for optimal growth…. Just so much. This is why I didn’t try last year. But I remembered that awhile ago I went to a little two hour class about gardening. It was at the home of a couple who were experts on gardening. The type of gardening they did was called “permaculture”. Their whole front and back yard was just covered in beautiful plants – flowers and vegetables. They had a whole irrigation system going on in their yard, so they didn’t even have to water their plants, they just channeled the rain water across the yard…. it was really cool, but again, overwhelming. Anyway they spent a lot of time talking about their compost. Apparently one of the most important things about a garden is the soil. If the soil is good, the plants will be healthier, and the veggies more nutritious. The way to get good soil is by composting, so I figure that is a good place to start. For the past few weeks I have been doing a little research on how to start a compost, and what to put in it. Here is what I learned.

Compost has two main ingredients:

  • Nitrogen: this includes anything living, such as food scraps (chopped up), grass clippings, and green yard waste
  • Carbon: this includes anything dead, such as twigs and dry leaves

You need a good balance of the carbon and nitrogen to make the compost work. The chemicals need to react together and break down, and if you have a too much of either carbon or nitrogen, it just doesn’t work. Also, you need more carbon than nitrogen. Here is a good website about those ratios, but from most of what I read, if you just throw everything together, it usually just works out. Also, I came across a great website that shows you everything that you can and cannot compost. Here is that link.

Here are some other important things a compost needs:

  • Heat
  • Air Circulation
  • Churning

There are several different ways to keep compost. Some people do an open compost heap in the yard, but I went with the closed composter method. Composters are quite expensive, about $100. But we had an extra garbage can, so I just used that. (Here is a video that shows how to make the composter)

Earlier today I walked around my house and gathered up all of the dead stuff I could find, and put it in a pile on my patio. I was suprized at how many dead leaves and things I found because I don’t have a big yard. I was worried I would not have enough, but even though it doesn’t look like a lot in the picture, I found enough stuff to probably fill up two or three garbage cans. So I have my carbon taken care of for a while.

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First I needed to poke holes all around the garbage can. I asked Coleman to show me how to use the drill. This was my first time using one, and it was fun! Maybe my next project will be to build something…. I drilled all over the garbage can, including the lid and on the bottom. This is for the air circulation. Then I put the garbage can on top to two cinder blocks that were in my yard. This way the air can also circulate under the can.

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I put in a layer of dead leaves, then a layer of food scraps I’ve been saving. I added some green yard scraps too. Then I put one more layer of brown. I used a garden hoe to churn everything around. I kept churning it until everything looked well mixed. I’ll keep adding food scraps and grass clippings till the composter is full. Once it breaks down I’ll have some good dirt to add to my future garden!

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