Compost is fantastic for soil improvement – adding organic matter, nutrients, and microorganisms to your soil. Why throw away all the things mentioned in this article that could be composting and then go out and buy bags of compost?
A variety of items can be added to your compost pile including: spoiled vegetables and fruits and vegetable and fruit peelings, plant debris, prunings, straw, leaves, bedding from vegetarian pets, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, cotton fabric, cardboard and paper – not slick – although it may be better to recycle paper in another way. You can also add manures from rabbits, cows, horses, goats, poultry, or sheep.
Ideal proportions would be 2/3 brown or dry (dried leaves, straw, etc) to 1/3 wet or green (vegetable peelings, spoiled fruit). If your compost pile is smelly it is because the proportions are wrong, your pile is too wet, or you have added things that should not be in a compost pile.
There are some items that should not be put into a compost pile: meat, bones, fat, dairy, manures or litter from carnivores including dogs and cats. Ammonium sulfate is not needed for the composting process and I feel defeats the purpose because of the harm it can cause to microorganisms.
Compost piles need air and moisture. Water may need to be added to keep a pile moist or your compost may need to be protected from rain to prevent your pile from becoming too wet.
Turning the pile helps provide air to the pile and will help the composting process to occur faster. Turned once per week your compost may be ready in a month or so. In my composting classes I teach 5 ways to make compost including one way to compost right in your garden with worms.
Sometimes I just need more compost than what I could make. When purchasing compost – Read the label or if purchasing in bulk ask what is in the compost! Biosolids means composted human waste. Whether or not you want to use it or other ingredients that the compost may contain at least you will be aware of what you are buying. Some products labeled compost contain some compost mixed with other things such as synthetic fertilizers. I have seen products labeled “Garden Soil” that are 100% compost.
To learn more about composting including various methods for outdoor and indoor composting sign up for my free gardening lessons and weekly garden tips and/or check my calendar for classes or schedule a class.