Friday, September 25, 2009

Guest Post - Organic Composting

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Our family really enjoys composting! I will always remember the first time I turned over my compost pile and it "steamed"!! I actually called my husband at work and told him that my compost was cooking!! I actually ask my friends and relatives if I can have their peels/scraps when I'm at their house watching them make a salad or peel potatos! Of course, I get the "look" when I ask, "What are you doing with those peels?....Can I have them?" But I don't care, I just want their scraps! "smile"

You don't need to be a farmer or have a lot of land to reap the benefits of composting! Basically all you need is a small outdoor area, at least two feet from any structure, and a pitch fork and/or shovel. Composting can be as much or as little work as you want it to be. As with most things, the more effort you put into it, the better it will be. Composting is a great job for little ones to get involved in. It is something that they can do at a very young age, and actually enjoy. I have images in my mind of my little girls as young as four walking out to the compost pile on a "cold winter's day" with a huge smile on their face as they looked back at me in the kitchen window. Even young children will feel a sense of accomplishment by composting!

There are often many surprises from composting as well, because whatever seeds you throw in your compost have the potential of growing! We get all kinds of things growing out of our compost! Every year we get a surprise! We've had squash, tomatoes, onions, and strawberries. The things that grow out of our compost taste and look really good!!

According to the United States EPA, yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 23% of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. That's a lot of waste to send to landfills when it could become very useful compost instead!

There are numerous benefits of composting. It builds good soil structure; helps soil to retain nutrients, helps maintain a neutral pH, protects plants from diseases commonly found in gardens and helps increase water-holding capacity of soil. It does not matter what kind of soil you have. All soil can be improved with compost! Once you have achieved your finished compost, you can add it to your plant's soil at any time of the year without fear of burning plants.

Any one can compost!! There is no single "right" compost technique. There are several ways and variations using some basic principles of aerobic decomposition. The technique you start may be modified at any time as you gain more knowledge and experience. "Keep it simple, convenient, and fun!!

When your pile looks like dark, rich soil, your compost is complete. It should smell sweet, earthy, and woodsy! It should crumble through your fingers. A lot of times the bottom of your compost pile is ready first. It is very easy to just scoop out some of the completed compost from the bottom with a shovel.

Here is a small list of what and what not to compost to get you going! It is recommended that you turn your compost pile over about every two weeks and keep your pile in the sun! Remember to put both nitrogen and carbon materials in your compost! Have Fun!

Do Compost:

Nitrogen:
barnyard manure
coffee grounds
flowers
fruit & vegetable trimmings
grass clippings
green leaves
sod
weeds

Carbon:
Ash-small amounts
bread
coffee filters
dry leaves
eggshells
hair
lint
paper with no ink "small amounts"
sawdust
straw
tea leaves (bags, not staple)
wood shavings

Do Not Compost:
bones
butter
cat litter
cheese
chicken
diapers
diseased plants
dog or cat feces
fish
greasy foods
lard
meat
milk products
oils
peanut butter
salad dressing
sour cream
vegetable oil

Thanks, Deb at Frugal Living and Having Fun

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