January 13, 2016 Heather Gauley

Dreaming of Gardening

 

compost_et_copeaux_de_boisOn a beautiful snowy day i am still thinking about my garden. I think about what i am going to plant next year and where I am going to add fruit trees. I also think about the great compost that i am going to nourish my plants and trees with. This is something i can do for my garden throughout the winter months.

Composting is my way of thanking the earth for her beautiful bounty.

So there is a few ways you can contribute to get the nutrient rich soil your garden deserves!

First is traditional composting.

A balanced compost pile (or compost bin) is the  key to good composting.  There are two main categories for organic inputs in composting, green and brown material

The green material is made up of items high in nitrogen like kitchen scraps, weeds, flowers, grass clippings, and chicken manure. Compost that is high in this green material can cause the pile to become mushy and smell bad. So you want to ensure that you have a 3:1 ratio of brown material to green material in your compost pile.

The brown material is made up from woody and fibrous materials like wood chips, branches,  straw, wood ashes, newspaper, corn cobs and sawdust. Put too much brown material in the compost and you will find it takes much longer to break down.

Water, oxygen and temperature are also key components to your pile. Too much water can cause it to become mucky and too little will slow down the process. Outdoor piles typically only need a sprinkle if it becomes too dry as the extra water will be absorbed by the surrounding earth. Adding brown material in between the green will keep oxygen throughout your pile. If you find that your compost is not getting enough oxygen you can turn it over or give it a few pokes with a pitchfork to keep the oxygen flowing. As for temperature, your compost pile is doing its best when it is between 55 and 65 degrees Celsius.  

Second is Vermicomposting.

Vermicomposting is wonderful!  This consists of red wiggler worms breaking down your organic green material. This is a wonderful solution if you are living in an apartment and don’t have access to a outdoor compost pile or if you live in a city that doesn’t offer compost collection. The rules are pretty much the same as above with the exception of meat. I never put meat into my vermicomposter. I find egg shells to be okay though.

Vermicomposters are easy to make as well. I purchased a large tote with a lid drilled some holes in the sides and filled it with shredded paper a little soil and worms to start. I had a bin in my apartment for a year and found that as long as i kept to the 3:1 ratio i had no problem with the smell.  

The soil you get out of this bin is as good as gold! Red wigglers can eat their weight in food and the compost can be harvested in as little as 8 to 12 weeks!

Third is Bokashi composting

This one was new for me.

Bokashi is a Japanese word that broadly means “fermented organic matter.”

With this system you can compost all kinds of kitchen scraps, including dairy and meat products.

Layering Bokashi bran with your kitchen scraps is a process of using Effective Microorganisms (EM) to reduce food scraps into compost.

Once the bin is full it is set aside for a couple of weeks. You will need to drain the excess liquid off of the bin every couple of days… that is where having a bokashi bin is helpful as it comes with a spout at the bottom just for this.

The liquid that comes from the bin can be diluted and used as a fertilizer or poured full strength down drains to clear them.

The compost breaks down in about two weeks and is ready to be put into your existing compost pile or into a shallow hole dug out in your garden. You will want to be careful that your plant’s roots don’t touch the Bokashi though as it is still very acidic at this stage.

So no matter what you choose you know that you are going to get exceptional compost for you garden. Just another step in creating a vibrant garden and a vibrant you from the ground up!

 

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