Are you trying square foot gardening, but feeling overwhelmed by all the information about composting? If you look up composting on the Internet, you will find the typically DELUGE of information. In the midst of that information, there will be a lot of rules. After reading for about thirty minutes, you may start to think “Wow, who would have guessed that throwing my old food in a pile was so complicated?”
Composting does not have to be hard, especially if you just ignore all the annoying rules and do what I do.
Here is what you can include, but no pressure.
1. Food scraps from fruit and veggies and coffee (No meat, oils, or dairy. Eggshells are okay.)
2. Yard scraps that aren’t too huge.
3. Paper scraps that aren’t dyed
6. Manure from vegetarian animals (not cat or dog)
7. Sun/ Heat
Ideally, you want a moist, warm environment where a balance of non-smelly things can break down into a rich dense organic soil. If you have too much of any one component (ie: newspaper), your compost won’t have the best consistency. The fuller that we can keep the bin, the better. Whatever is in the “middle” is decomposing faster, so the bigger the “middle” is, the more compost you get. Does that make sense?
BUT, no matter what you do, don’t worry . . . because
Here are some rules that are good to follow, but which I generally ignore.
1. Don’t allow food seeds to go into the compost because they could reseed. (This is too annoying to bother with. I just dump all my scraps, including the insides of the canteloupe. Sometimes the seeds to sprout in my garden, so I either weed them out or let them grow!)
2. Crush eggshells or chop veggies really small so they break down faster. (I inconsistently do this. Usually, they go into the bucket whatever size they were on my cutting board.)
3. Stir the compost often to include air and make sure that the materials are breaking down evenly. (I stir when I remember or care or want to exercise my biceps.)
4. Keep a balance of materials like grass clippings, coffee grounds, manure, and food scraps. (I abandoned the use of the word “balance” years ago. I do the best I can. If it looks like there is too much of any one thing, I throw in a handful of straw from an old bail of hay. Until yesterday, I had never added manure because we didn’t have any. Then my neighbor brought me a load of horse crap! Imagine my delight. :))
The Providinator built our compost bin with open slats so that it gets lots of air and doesn’t become smelly. Because it isn’t a barrel or turnable kind, it is best if we stir it.
He made the bottom with a removable piece so we can take the “finished” compost out the bottom.
SO, in spite of ignoring some of the “rules” and just throwing it all into a big bin, we have still turned out some pretty decent compost. The best thing about our compost bin and system is that it is totally, poorganically FREE. I did not spend one penny on it. I also feel better about throwing away food that has gone bad because I know it is going to a good purpose.
When the compost that comes out the bottom is nice and black and rich (jokes not necessary), stir it into the soil in your garden. It is the best “fertilizer”!
How do you compost? What rules do you ignore?