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Easy Guide to Composting

Easy Guide to Composting

Using kitchen scraps and yard waste is a frugal way to make your own composting material.  By doing so, you are also keeping your yard, garden and flowers healthy in a natural way.  To help you get started in making your own composting, here are some easy tips:

 As with most things, it should start with the planning.  Think about how much compost you will need and how much raw material you have access to.  Knowing this, will help in deciding how large your composting bin should be.

Composting

Earth Worms: The hardest worker in the garden

A worm box can be of any size as long as it has a lid, water proof sides and bottom and you have a supply of paper of all kinds, [newspaper, computer paper or magazines] and dirt.  You can purchase a ready-made worm composting system, or you can make your own by poking holes, at the top, for air flow and at the bottom for drainage, in a see through, plastic container then set it on some type of drainage tray.  Once you have your worms, box, paper and dirt, the rest is all up to the worms.  Make a layer of dirt about 4 inches deep, introduce your worms, then wet the paper and tare it into 2-3 inch strips and place it in the box.  Place the lid on the box and let the boys go to work.  Never let your worm bin get below 55 degrees or the process will stop and your worms might die.

For those with larger outdoor areas, compost bins can be built outdoors for little money and effort. You can also compost without a bin and simply make a pile in a sheltered corner of your yard.

An outdoor bin can be built for little or no money using what you have on hand. Wooden pallets that you can find at any retail store make great composting bins. Most large retail store will give you these for just hauling them away.  You will need 4-6 of the pallets to make your bin.  They can be wired or nailed together to make a usable open top composting bin.

Composting

Wooden Pallet Composting Bin

 Except for dairy products, fish and meat, you can put most kitchen scraps into your composting bin, including egg shells, tea leaves, and coffee grounds. Any organic matter from your yard can be added, such as hay, straw, cut grass, leaves, mulch, wood chips, and small pruning from your shrubs. You can also add a layer of shredded newspapers from time to time but without worms, it will take longer to decompose that the household waste.

Chicken droppings can be added to your mixture, chicken manure makes the compost rich and full of nutrients, but do not add waste from other pets, such as dogs or cats.

Turn your compost once a month or so, stirring to aerate it and get the top layer down into the middle.  If your composting bin is in a location where rain water can reach it you should not have a need to water it.  If it is not, water it about once a month with a garden hose or better yet, collect rain water and us it, instead.


4 Methods of Easy Gardening

Our easy gardening methods as compared to the old fashion gardening the way your grandparents did it with a hoe, a shovel and a prayer. Old-fashioned gardening required lots of room, work and attention. Times have changed dramatically with today’s four methods for easy gardening.

  • Lasagna Gardening

In spite of it’s name, lasagna garden has nothing to do with an Italian dinner.  It is a method of easy gardening that turns your kitchen waste, leaves, grass clippings and old newspapers into rich, healthy compost without a lot of work. When the leaves start falling, gather them up and layer them over your Spring garden site. Add vegetable peelings, grass clippings, coffee grounds and a few inches of sawdust and/or newspapers. Cover the bed with cardboard, then a large piece of plastic and watch it as it shrinks down into compost.

The downside is this method of creating a rich compost right on your gardening spot, is it might take more than one season to convert your scraps into compost, which can be a negative point if you are in a hurry.  Adding a few Earthworms will speed up the process.

  • Square Foot Gardening

Easy gardening the Square Foot method, can make a great difference in your gardening activities because it does not require a lot of tools to toil the soil. Because you garden in one square foot at a time, you don’t have as many weed problems and the ground doesn’t get compacted easily. Careful soil mixtures will increase the water-holding abilities of the squares while decreasing the need for additional water. Plant diseases do not spread as easily in square foot gardens, either.

  • No Dig Method

 

4 Easy Gardening Methods

No-dig methods allows nature to carry out your cultivating operations. Placing different organic matters, such as well rotted manure, compost, leaf mold, spent mushroom compost, old straw, etc., directly onto the soil surface as a mulch at least 2–6 inches deep, which is then given to the actions of worms, insects and microbes. Another no-dig method is sheet mulching wherein a garden area is covered with wet newspaper or cardboard, compost and topped off with mulch. No-dig gardens can be grown over a lawn, on concrete or cardboard, if there is no need for a deep root system. The problem will be keeping the snails off your young vegetation.

  • Intensive Or Raised Bed Gardening

This method is a system of raised beds that allows you to concentrate the soil in small areas, generally 4 feet by 8 feet,  creating an environment for growing vegetables. Raised beds warm up more quickly in the spring and by covering them, it will allow you to grow vegetables for a longer time frame, early spring to late fall.

Easy Gardening Tip

Pests are usually fairly crop-specific. They prefer vegetables of one type or family. Mixing families of plants helps to break up large pest-preferred crops and keeps early pest damage within a small area.

As you can see, there are more methods of easy gardening than there is of the traditional hard way. If one of these appeals to you, find out more about it and then “dig in”.

Looking Back At Our Growing Season

As our summer turns to fall, it’s time to look back of our growing season and start planning for next year.

Don’t Stop Watering:

Just because the temperature takes a dip doesn’t mean we should stop watering the plants we still have in our garden. Having enough water in and around them, protects them from the on coming cold weather.

This is especially true of container plants. Having the extra installation of the water can keep their roots from freezing. Plus it will give them a boost when the soil warms up in the daytime sun.

Remove Dead Plants and Start Composting

Keeping a neat gardening area is as important as anything else you do in the garden. Keeping your paths clear of debris and your beds neat will help you know exactly what you have in your gardens at all times.

Removing dead or broken off plants then adding them to your compost bin will help enrich your garden for the next season. It also helps to eliminate winter hiding spots for hibernating insects that might do harm to your next planting season. Never throw diseased plants in the compost pile, always add them to your trash for take away or burning. Tree leaves can also be added to your compost bin to create a rich nutritious meal for your plants in the spring.

Adding Autumn Leaves to your garden will enrich your soil.

Adding Autumn Leaves to your garden will enrich your soil.  Composting leaves will add to the volume of your compost gold for your spring planting.

Add New Beds

Fall is also the time to decide on new planting areas. Till and prepare the soil for any new raised beds or row gardens now. This allows the soil and any animal manure you have placed in it, time to freeze and thaw in the winter, to break it down into a workable easy to use soil.

Getting ready for our Spring growing season is stressful enough, just remember, to have less to do on your Spring To Do List, do it now.