Composting 101

Basil from the Gowan's GardenLet’s talk about garbage. Well, compost. In quite possibly the most romantic gift ever, Trevor bought me a composting bin for Valentine’s Day one year. While other women might have gotten upset by that, I loved it. And, in fact, I’ve used it ever since. 

We compost ANYTHING that we possibly can. So what’s in our compost pile?

  • Any and all fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Egg shells 
  • Lint from the clothes dryer
  • Waste sucked up from the vacuum cleaner
  • Some yard waste 

The trick to composting is striking a balance. Find a balance between your leaves and other yard waste mixed with your vegetable scraps and refuse from the kitchen. I read a great article a couple years ago in Martha Stewart Living. It broke down that your compost pile should be two parts “brown” waste (dried leaves, pine needles, newspaper, wood chips, etc.) to one part “green” waste (produce scraps, fresh leaf trimmings, etc.). 

So what’s the output of all of this research? A coffee-black rich soil that feeds your plants and vegetable garden. 

My composting binHere’s how to get started: 

Clear off a partly sunny/shady spot in your yard and build up some soil or other brown material for about 6 to 12 inches. If you have a problem with animals in your yard (like we do), you’re going to need a container (pictured here) to keep the animals out. If we didn’t have our bin, we’d just be putting out an all-you-can-eat buffet for the deer and the friendly woodchuck in our yard. 

Add about 6 inches of green waste on top and continue to alternate the two types of matter. Then wet down the pile (not so is sopping wet, but just damp enough to get it cooking). That’s basically what you’re doing: creating heat from the refuse breaking down to continue to break everything completely. Where we live in upstate New York, I don’t have to water down our compost pile much, just in the dry, summer months. 

Inside the compost bin

If you want or need your pile to break down faster, use a compost activator. You can buy it at any gardening store and they are tiny little pellets you sprinkle all over the pile. 

Does anyone else have any composting tips? Leave them in the comments below! I’d love to hear them! 



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