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Easy Composting Ideas

Effective Compost Methods

Yard trimmings don't have to be put in a pile and tended constantly to be composted. You can compost grass clippings by spreading them up to three inches deep around your shrubs, flowerbeds and on your garden. Keep the material an inch away from plant stems. This will help the soil hold moisture and prevent weeds; two big pluses for your plants and you. DO NOT use grass that has been treated with herbicides. Leave the grass on your lawn.

In the fall, spread leaves over your garden, let them lay or work them in. By spring they will have decomposed. Heavy soil benefits the most. It helps the soil become loose and crumbly.

Another way to compost leaves is pile them on concrete and mow over them several times to reduce their size. Use the mulched leaves to protect roses and other perennials over the winter. Remember any plant material can be used to compost, even pulled weeds.

Lawn Composting
There's no need to rake your leaves any longer. You can use a mulching mower over your leaves and let them remain on the lawn. The leaf bits decompose over the winter and return organic matter to the soil, saving you time. Remember, leaving grass clippings on the lawn is the easiest method of composting.

Leaf Heap Composting
The easiest compost pile is a stack of leaves left in the corner of the yard to decompose for a year or two. The leaves turn into a nice mulch with no turning or other work. You can add vegetable scraps from the kitchen - just bury them in the leaves. Don't add any meat, fish, dairy products, egg yolk, grease, or pet droppings to the leaves. They attract rodents and flies and carry disease.

Fast Compost Pile Method–Getting Started
Faster composting requires more work, but your compost will be ready in three to six months. First pick a site that is convenient to reach with kitchen scraps and is in the shade to keep the pile from drying out. You can build a container if you like, or just heap materials in a pile.

The faster decomposing compost pile is made up of about one quarter green material mixed with three quarters brown material and a handful of soil to introduce more microbes.

Green materials contain nitrogen and include grass clippings, vegetable and fruit scraps, fresh weeds, coffee and tea grounds and egg shells. Don't use grass clippings from a treated lawn. Brown materials have carbon and include leaves, straw, corncobs, and dead plants. This combination provides food and body building nitrogen for microbes.

Pile Maintenance
Microbes need oxygen, so move materials around with a pitchfork every week, especially in the first few months. Never compost green materials alone because the pile will not hold enough oxygen, and odors will develop.

You will need to provide water if the pile begins to dry out. Materials in the pile should be as wet as a wrung out sponge, but not dripping wet. Too much water will deprive the pile of oxygen. A burlap cover may help your pile hold the right amount of moisture.

Your pile will be dormant when temperatures fall below 40 degrees, so let it rest over the winter. A pile at least 3' x 3' x 3' will keep itself warm during the rest of the year.

Using Compost
The compost is done when it turns dark brown and is crumbly like soil. Use your homegrown compost to improve soil structure by putting it into planting beds six inches deep or by using it as mulch.

Adding compost to soil increases its ability to get nutrients to plants, balances soil pH, improves drainage, allows roots to get air, and provides a long list of micronutrients other fertilizers do not supply.

Homemade compost is truly black gold for your yard!

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