by Emily Stricklin on Mar 23, 2022
Do you own a garden? If not, do you want to? Well, if so you have probably thought about composting at least a time or two. So, what exactly is composting? Well, it is simply a way to create your very own nutrient rich soil to fertilize your garden with. And instead of buying those pricey bags of soil at the stores, you can simply make your own usable compost with stuff you probably already have around the house. Anything you don’t have you can easily come by and usually for free. But before we talk about how to setup and manage a compost, lets first discuss the benefits of having one.
#1) You are recycling, and will not be contributing to the worlds 35 MILLION Tons of food waste per year.
#2) You save money by not having to buy fertilizer or ready-made soil at the store. Plus, the gas money and time, it takes to drive all the way into town and back depending upon how far out in the country you live.
#3) You will be able to grow all the yummy veggies in your garden you want with this fresh made compost full of nutrients. A compost will yield more nutrients than the store-bought comparison.
Ok, now let’s talk about how to set up a compost. First you will need to select a location you want to have it. Not too close to the house in case it smells but not too far away so that it doesn’t seem like a total chore to go take a load out. When you have the perfect location picked out, it is time to build a bin. This is not required to have a compost bin but it is preferred. Having some sort of barricade helps contain your compost and lets you pile vertically rather than having your pile spread horizontally all across the yard. You can use most anything to build a bin, old scrap wood, pallets, even tin sections.
If you choose pallets, 9 times out of 10 you can get them for Free at several places. Any time I need some, I just go down to the local feed store and ask them if I can have a few out back. They always say yes because they have so many piling up! So, I will load up the bed of the truck with as many as I feel like grabbing that day. I use pallets for a lot of my DIY projects around the house.
And the best part is, you don’t even need any tools to build your bin. If you don’t have a drill and screwdriver, you can simply use bailing wire to tie the pallets to each other in the form of a square. The fourth side is optional but not required.
Once you have one pallet per side you are all set. Then you will have a bin ready to take on all the scraps you can throw at it. If you want to line the interior with chicken mesh wire as an additional layer to keep everything inside the bin, you can but it is not required.
Now let’s talk about what all goes in a compost and what doesn’t. First, you are going to want to save or source “Greens” such as kitchen veggie scraps. Garden weeds that haven’t flowered, fresh cut grass, coffee grounds, egg shells and manure from your farm animals. This includes horses, cows, rabbits, goats & pig droppings.
2nd you will need “Browns” these are items such as leaves, shredded paper, cardboard & sawdust. If you don’t have any trees in your yard, you can always take a few trash bags and a rake down to the park on the weekend and fill as many as you want to for free. And most of time if you ask Home Depot, Lowes or your local Hardware store, they will give you sawdust from their saws in the back for free. Having a compost is all about being resourceful and using what you can and where you can find it. And like I said, the majority of the time all you have to do is ask.
Also, here are a few things to avoid putting in your compost: dairy, meat or any fatty products along with dog or cat waste. And it is not required but will speed things up in the decomposing process if you toss your compost with a pitch fork or rake once every few weeks. A typical compost takes between 6-12 months to decompose into useable nutrient rich garden soil. And the more you toss it, the faster it will be ready to use. Be sure to do about a 50/50 split. Add some greens, add some browns, toss together and repeat.
Having your very own compost is a wonderful way to grow vibrant veggies on your property with just the items you already have at your fingertips or can easily acquire. There is always a sense of pride that comes with building your own garden and growing your own food. That all starts with the land and what you use to enrich it.
So, go get your hands in the dirt and start your very own compost today!