Introduction to Composting

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Here’s a gem of advice: Composting is nothing more than putting your garden and kitchen scraps in one place. There, isn’t that easy? Here are a few tips to get you started.

marginally hardy

At planting time, add compost to the plant's hole to improve drainage. Cold and wet are often the culprits that kill off marginally hardy plants over the winter.

  1. You cannot do this wrong. The worst thing that will happen is that it will take a long time to make compost, your compost may be too hot and lose some microorganism or your pile will be too big to turn and you give up for the season.
  2. Your pile should be at least 3x3 feet but not so big that you struggle to turn it. If you turn it once a week or so, you will have more success.
  3. Layer the brown and green. Simply put, layer fresh garden scraps (grass clippings, cuttings—green materials with water content) with brown (fall leaves, spent grasses—dead garden material lacking water). Toss in some kitchen scraps (sans oils, dairy and meats; we don’t need another way to attract critters to the garden!) and you have a compost pile.
  4. Heat will generate the composting process, the microorganism that decompose the materials.
  5. Do not let the pile dry out. Like your garden, the compost pile and the living organisms within need water to thrive.
  6. Sun heats the compost. If you live where it is hot, and your pile has full sun, you may need to water it more often to keep it from overheating and drying out.
  7. Select a good site. Flat, full to part sun (depending on where you live) and easy to access and not on a hard, impermeable surface.

That’s it: some heat, some sun, some water and a nice mix of brown and green, stir and let it cook.

If you want, you can up your composting game and build bins to keep your piles tidy, plant a camouflaging wall of plants in the front to hide the decaying matter or go all out and buy a compositing unit. But, like with all things in gardening, the simpler you keep it in the beginning, the more likely you are to stick with it.