Monday, October 8, 2012

Learning to Compost

The composting experimentation begins. I'm taking the University of Idaho Master Gardener class, and the instructor said, "If you aren't composting, you should be." Autumn is an excellent time to start because there are a lot of ingredients available.

I purchased two rolls of hardware cloth (rabbit fence would work, too) - 36 inches by 10 feet. They were shaped into two "bins," secured at the seam with wire, and secured to the ground with landscape staples.

I'm dumping in frozen tomatoes and mint clippings in the photo. I'll also add kitchen scraps, lawn clippings and mulched leaves - when the trees shed a bit later. The "greens" and the "browns" need to be about 50-50. Stir well and moisten, and add nitrogen. That can be done with manure, but I happen to have some nitrogen fertilizer in the garage. Regular stirring and moisture and, hopefully, the compost will be done by spring planting time.

Last year, my lawn guy dumped mulched leaves directly into my garden beds. He thought that would be excellent for soil health. Well....yes and no. The leaves didn't decompose enough, so they "stole" nitrogen (used by bacteria during composting) from my plants during the growing season. It was most noticeable in my tomatoes. Even though I fertilized, I couldn't overcome the demand of the decaying leaves.

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