Posts Tagged soil improvement

Getting your compost together

Compost is a great way to improve your soil quality and it’s easy to cultivate, when done correctly.

Here are some things to think about:

Tip 1: If you decide to set up a compost pile, make sure you have your brown/green ratio all set.   The basic idea is you want to put well chopped, 6″ layer of brown matter at the bottom of your compost pile (like dead leaves, hay, straw, sawdust, etc).  Once you have your “brown” layer down, add about 3″ of “green” organic matter (grass clippings, old vegatables, etc).  Next you rinse and repeat – literally.  You want to water each new layer thoroughly before adding more organic materials in.   After about two days, mix your layers together thoroughly.

Tip 2: It’s important that if you add in table scraps, you ensure they consist only of organic plant matter.   If you put in meat, bread, or other processed foods, your compost pile will become smelly and attract rats.  No good.

Tip 3: If you see heavy weather coming, throw a tarp over your compost pile.  If it gets too wet, it’ll have difficulty heating up and breaking down the materials which compose it properly.

Tip 4: Make sure you have a good spot for your compost pile.  You can put it in a pre-fabricated bin, have an area built, or stow your compost behind a barn or out-building.  It’s not the most attractive thing to look at, but should be easily accessable.  My compost pile is behind raised planters which conceal it completely from view.

Here’s to the new rich, fabulous soil.

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What is the buzz about Compost?

Composting is becoming more and more popular as people attempt to garden and landscape as organically as possible.  It’s not only good for your lawn or garden, but helps prevent overflow at landfills.

So, how does one do this composting thing

There are actually several different ways to do this.

1. Instead of getting a high power, almost vacuum cleaner type lawn mower, get the kind that has less powerful suction.  This will leave a thin layer of grass clippings on your lawn to decompose and give back to the soil.  This is very passive composting.

2. If you have excess grass clippings, leaves and other fully organic material (not meat scraps, or processed things like bread), rake them all into a pile somewhere in your yard and then add to it with other scraps like fruits or veggies that went off in the fridge, carrot tops, the parts of potatoes which started to sprout, green bean stems. apple cores, etc.  You can also add eggshells, dead flowers, coffee grinds, plant clippings from the garden, old tomatoe plants, etc.  Just don’t add meat, even if it’s raw.  It’ll make your pile smell horrible and attracts rodents.

As a note, if you have large leaves, try running them over with your lawn mower to shred them before putting them in your pile.

Every once in a while, spray your pile down to moisten it, then turn your pile with a rake or some such implement.

Once the materials in the pile have broken down, spread it around your garden/lawn.  If you start a pile now, the material should be ready to go just in time for spring.

3. Get a kitchen or larger, garden composter.  These are basically large buckets with holes in them.  The best kind let you turn them and are called “tumblers”.  They look nicer than a pile.  I have one myself as I have a small yard with little space for a huge pile of compost. 

To really optimize your composting, you can buy some worms to add to your kitchen scrap bin or your outdoor bin.  The worms will help break down the organic material much faster and will create a super nutritious “tea” at the bottom of your bin.  This “tea” is a liquid created by water and worms moving through you compost.  It’s amazing fertilizer.

4. Is your yard in need of immediate soil amendment before you landscape it in spring?  You can try covering your entire yard with compost you purchase, then laying down brown cardboard (don’t use glossy cardboard, and make sure you remove any tape), and finally putting a top layer of some other kind of mulch which is weed and seed free. 

This really gets good nutrients into your soil, while smothering weeds and plants you don’t want beneath it.  It’s a great way to prep your soil for a springtime landscaping project.

Here’s hoping your soil is well-fed and healthy!

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