So you want to make compost for your garden? I'm just starting out, and have much to learn, but I thought you might like to see how I'm doing so far in this whole composting journey.
To be honest, this is my second attempt at composting. I had a pretty good compost pile started, but life happened, and the compost got put on the back burner. It's pretty low maintenance, but keeping up with a compost pile does take some doing.
So, no matter if you are just starting out, or if you are jumping back into it for the second time, there has never been a better time to make it happen! And if you are just starting out on your gardening journey, check out my last blog post on gardening tips here.
Why should I start composting?
There are a couple really good reasons to start composting!
#1 It's good for your garden!
Of course! Once the compost process has started, it becomes a living thing. The compost is teaming with life; nutrients, nitrogen, bacteria, and fungi. Adding a layer every time you plant is just adding all that wonderful nutrients back into the soil, giving the soil food to grow healthy, strong plants.
#2 What else are you going to do with all those kitchen scraps?
Yep, they'll just go in the trash! Such a waste of valuable nutrients! Give it a second life by simply composting it!
#3 Having a compost heap makes weeding feel so much more productive!
Weird, I know! But, let me explain. When I see a whole line of weeds needing to be pulled, I now see food for my compost heap! I need those weeds so I can continue to grow good compost to put back in the garden. It's a positive way to look at weeding!
How to make compost
First of all, you'll need something to put your compost in. You can find many great options for composting bins on Amazon, your local gardening store, or you can go the most economical rout and just make your own!
Here's how I made my compost bin
- 4 pallets
Yep! that's it!
We live on a large farm, so chances of a spare pallet or two laying around is pretty high. I gathered together 4 pallets; some a little more disheveled than others, stood them on their sides corner to corner, and wired them together with wire we already had on hand.
Seriously so easy!
I have seen many other gardeners use this method, and everyone always says that the compost needs slats on the sides to let the air circulate around the composting materials, but recently I've been following Charles Dowding gardening channel and discovering that the air circulation is not really necessary for making great compost. In fact, being that I live in California where we get very little rainfall, my compost will likely get too dry with all the open slats in the sides.
So, I have slid cardboard along the pallet walls just to help hold in the moisture. I will likely modify this bin as the year goes by, but this is what I have for now.
The point is, I don't want my compost to be too dry in the summer months ahead.
Where to put your compost pile
Obviously put it somewhere convenient. It should be easily accessible to you from your kitchen, but also close to the garden.
I found a convenient, unused corner of our garden. It is easy to dump the compost over the fence without having to go all the way into the garden. Our garden is a bit of a walk from our kitchen, but I'd rather have the compost heap close to my garden to easily distribute over my garden beds when it's ready.
What is in compost anyway? Here's a list to get you started.
- Green waste-Anything that's green or living. Weeds, grass clippings, kitchen scraps, trimmings from the garden, fresh manure, coffee grounds, tea bags.
- Brown waste-Anything brown, or dead. Dead leaves, wood ash, cardboard, and paper, decomposing sawdust.
If you'd like to watch a great video full of composting ingredients, go check out Charles Dowding's video here! And while you are there, just watch all of his gardening videos! He's so inspiring!
I have a little bucket sitting on my counter at all times to contain my kitchen scraps. This makes it easier to carry the waste to the garden heap. These buckets are easy to find on amazon, or you can repurpose an old pot or bucket.
What shouldn't go in compost?
I won't be adding scrap food like pasta, or bread and such. It doesn't add any real value to the soil, and those kinds of kitchen scraps will attract all the critters. Stick to the living green and brown waste, and you'll be fine!
Every time you dump in compost, try to spread it out evenly to get good layers. Have you ever left fresh cut grass in a pile, then come back a week or so later only to discover the bottom layer is gross and stinky? Same goes for the compost pile. Layer everything well with a good mix of greens and and and browns.
When Should I start composting?
Well, technically 6 months ago! But better late than never! So jump in and start making your dream compost pile!
Do you already have a functioning compost pile? I'd love to hear your tips, and what you have learned along the way. Share in the comments bellow.