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Start composting: Free fertilizer

Don’t bombard yourself with expensive alternatives that aren’t even that good. Here’s how to keep your soil in tip-top condition while reducing the amount of waste.

Let’s start with the obvious. Composting may seem difficult. Gardening gets a bad rap when it comes to gardening. It’s associated with unpleasant smells, unwieldy piles, and gardens full of rats, soft dirt, and a few eggshells. But it’s actually one of the best natural ingredients for improving your soil. It has a higher nutritional content than store-bought fertilizers, packaged soils, or  synthetic products. Best of all, it’s free and made straight from garden and kitchen scraps. On average, 30% of household waste sent to landfills is green waste. Home composting helps reduce your environmental impact.

The term “composting” describes the aerobic decomposition of nitrogen-rich green waste and carbon-rich organic matter such as leaves. The key is to strike the perfect balance of green waste and organic matter.

The parameters will vary slightly depending on the size and type of bin system you use, but ageneral rule of thumb is to add one handful of organics per handful of waste. However, keep in mind the specific requirements of your compost bin.

Typically, the following items can be used in a standard composting system.

Green matter (nitrogen rich)

Kitchen waste (vegetables, fruits)
Coffee grounds and tea leaves
Plant trimming: Foliage, leaves and flowers
Lawn cuttings: Fresh mulch from lawn mowings (chemical-free lawn).

Organic matter (carbon rich)

Leaves: Dry fallen leaves (use oak leaves sparingly as they decompose slowly)
Newsprint, cardboard, brown paper, shredded or cut into small pieces (use sparingly)
Dry lawn mowing
Straw – A great carbon source

Composting is a great way to get the whole family involved in gardening. Anyone can participate and feel the joy of making a difference. It’s also a great tool for kids to learn the basics of how to recycle items back into the earth.

Easy steps to composting using a standard system or container

✓ Choose a flat, partly sunny location with good drainage and easy access.
✓ Create a 12-inch base layer in the litter box using straw, leaves, or wood brush material to promote air circulation.
✓ There are alternating layers of green and organic materials.
✓ For each additional piece of food waste, add a layer of organic matter on top.
✓ Mix the contents of your bin every two weeks. This breaks down the material by aerating it and reheating the vessel.

✓ The pile will shrink over time. Continue adding layers until the bin is almost full.
✓ Harvest composts every six months. You need to completely break down the bottom and
center and fill in a healthy, moist space for the bugs to thrive.
✓ If the soil clumps are large, they can be filtered through a mesh screen.

Choose your trash can. Compost bins come in many shapes and sizes. You can purchase them at most garden stores, nurseries, and municipal waste disposal sites.

These special containers allow you to place compostable material on top and harvest the compost from the bottom.

This rotating bin is one of the easiest to maintain. The only downside is that you have to harvest all the soil at once.

This system is aimed at serious compost enthusiasts. Once operational, it can process large quantities of compost in staggered periods. This means you always have a steady supply of compost.

An active compost pile, a pile to which green waste is continuously added requires more time to decompose. This system allows you to complete composting by stopping adding green waste to one pile. When you’re done, use it in the garden and refill the bin while the other piles are finished. The third vat in this system is always empty for easy mixing.

A worm bin is another option that works especially well in small spaces. Vermicomposting, or worm composting, is very similar to standard composting, but operates on a smaller scale and relies primarily on earthworms for decomposition. The worms used in these compost systems are called red wigglers. You can also buy it with a bin or get it from a friend’s system.

Worm bins can produce liquid and solid fertilizers that are good for your plants. Most commonly, people purchase specially designed vermicompost bins that are relatively shallow and wide.

What is your experience with composting? Do you like it or want to leave a scrap? Please share your thoughts and composting tips below.

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