Composting- Great for your plants and for the environment.
Composting is something that nearly everyone has heard about, but does not necessarily know how to implement. This article will give you some of the benefits of utilizing compost in your yard or garden, and the easiest ways to get it done.
Since compost is essentially organic matter that has been broken down to the consistency of soil, it is rich in vitamins and nutrients. These nutrients transfer from the compost into the existing soil, which enriches it, and helps to feed the plants that grow there. The benefits of using compost as a soil additive are numerous. Since it is made from organic matter, compost is a "green" alternative to chemical fertilizers. Another benefit to the environment is that less waste ends up in landfills. Our soil here in West Texas can be poor, and poorly drained, and as the compost works down into the soil, it can help to loosen it up and provide better drainage. Starting your own compost pile is incredibly easy, and the maintenance does not take too much time of energy.
There are different ways to start composting. One way is to find an unused corner of your yard, preferably in the sun, and build a small 4-sided enclosure out of wood or chicken wire. Be sure to let the top remain open, or have a lid that can be removed. You also need to make sure that the walls are not too high, since you will need to be able to reach over the top to stir the compost. Once you have your enclosure, you can start putting leaves, grass clippings, and food scraps into your bin. A note here: if you have dogs or cats, be sure to clean up any droppings before bagging the grass to go into the compost. There are chemicals in the droppings that are not good for it. However, rabbit, chicken, or other animal droppings should not be an issue, and will actually help the compost break down faster. Another thing to watch out for is putting meat products into your bin. The meat will not hurt it, but you run the risk of having critters getting into it. Meat products will also make the compost smell worse. You also do not just have to stick to fruits and vegetables. Eggshells, coffee and tea grounds, and even paper towels and newspaper can go into your compost bin.
Compost is created as heat breaks down the organic matter in the bin. About once a month, you should stir the compost up, making sure to move the stuff on the bottom of the pile to the top. That way, you can get a more even breakdown. Moisture is also impostant to compost production, so you should wet down the compost about once a month as well. You can also add an additive like Natural Guard Compost Maker to help speed up the process. Your compost is ready when the consistency is similar to dirt. If you compost year round, when you wish to get the finished compost out of the bin, you may have to move the matter on the top of the pile off to the side. This may seem like a lot of work, but the natural nutrients that can be found in compost can work wonders on you gardens and lawn.
If you want compost but do not want to do the things previously discussed, there are products on the market that have been designed to do nearly all the work for you, such as rotating compost bins. They are plastic barrels that have a hinged lid and a crank on the side. All you have to do is put the stuff in the barrel, keep it moist, and give the crank a turn every couple of weeks. Once the compost is ready, you can use the opening to extract it.
With either of these methods, the compost will take a little while to form, so be patient. The results are well worth it.