Compost is king when it comes to growing a beautiful plant or vegetable garden organically. This nutrient-rich black dirt forms as vegetable and plant matter decomposes. It's easy to make, it provides a great way to use up food scraps, and it's virtually free! Best of all, the pile eats up food and other matter that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
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To start, you'll need to decide whether to use a closed container or open space near your garden. Naturally, a closed container is easily contained, but it can be harder to regulate moisture within and it holds less. While a compost pile or heap lets you add more material, and is easier to mix, it can be quite unsightly. Whichever you choose, you'll definitely want to keep the pile outside, as it gives off a distinct odor as the matter breaks down.
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Now, ready, set, compost!
- Start the pile with dirt from your garden, and add food scraps regularly.
- Maintain a balance between wet green material (like grass clippings and vegetable peels) and dry brown matter (like chopped leaves and shredded paper).
- Never add meat scraps or fatty foods.
- Stir the pile every week or two to mix in the beneficial bacteria growing inside.
- Keep the mixture moist but not soaking wet and in no time you'll have your own pile of nutrient-rich compost for planting.
Mother Earth News advises using the following for your compost pile:
- Grass clippings
- Chopped leaves and stalks
- Vegetable and fruit trimmings
- Straw and hay
- Shredded paper and cardboard
- Manure from grazing animals
For more great ideas on how to go green in honor of Earth day, see these other posts from my colleagues.
Have you started a compost heap in your yard? What has worked for you? Let me know in the comments.
-By Paul Hope
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