Composting Tips for Beginners

Composting occurs naturally in the eco-system, and man-made compost is an excellent way for you to utilize your organic waste to the max. Egg shells, dead plants, old leather gloves, sawdust – most things can actually turn into rich, nutrient filled soil that can be used to fertilize your garden. With these composting tips, you’ll be on your way to a healthy garden in no time!

The soil is produced through the hard work of microorganisms that break down the materials you choose to put in your compost. In order for these microorganisms to perform as you wish, you will have to provide them with water, oxygen and, of course, food.

The first thing you need to decide is what kind of organic garden compost you would like to start. There are two main types: dynamic and static.

Dynamic
+ Produces compost at a fast rate
– Time consuming since it regularly needs to be turned and monitored

Static
+ Requires minimum effort since you basically mix all the ingredients, walk away and let nature do its job.
– The compost needs to contain the correct balance of water, oxygen, and organic waste in order to function without maintenance.
– The process might be slow during the colder months.

After deciding what kind that will work best for you, it is time to pick out a bin and get started!

Ingredients
In order for your compost to produce soil, it needs carbon and nitrogen (e.g. manure, food scraps – anything organic). The tricky part is to find the right balance, since different organic materials have different organic ratios. When starting up the organic garden compost, you will have to lay the ground work by adding either regular soil or store-bought compost activator. The latter can also be used later in the process if you notice that your compost is breaking down slowly, since it will replenish the pile with nitrogen.

Oxygen
Oxygen is vital for the composting process to take place. Failure to properly provide your compost with oxygen can result in a very smelly pile of ingredients.
• Put some small tree branches or twigs in the compost to make sure the soil isn’t packed too tight.
• Regularly dig into the soil with a shovel and stir it around in order to mix contents and “air it out”.
• Don’t drown your compost. Too much water will make it dense and prevent oxygen from reaching the deeper areas. If you have accidently over-watered it, simply add sawdust to soak up the excess fluid.

Water
As mentioned above, too much water will work against the composting process. You can easily test the moisture level of your soil by squeezing it with your hand. The ultimate texture is when it neither drips nor crumbles. Simply use a garden hose or watering can to nurture your compost.

Composting is a fun, cheap, and efficient way of acquiring fertilizer for your garden, and it is a great opportunity to teach your children about the biological processes that occur in nature.