by Texas Homesteader
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Black gold, gardeners delight, compost – it’s all the same thing. And making your own compost is simple.
But how do you make compost? What can be composted and what cannot? What kind of container do you put it in?
There are lots of different answers and methods to those questions. Let’s start with the container.
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No Need To Buy Compost
Backyard gardeners flock to the store to buy bags of compost. But it’s beyond easy to make yourself. Not only will it be less expensive, but composting is good for the environment.
When food scraps that can be composted go into your compost pile (and then ultimately to organically feed your plants) instead of just rotting the landfill, everybody wins!
Compost Tumbler – One Option
All organic matter will eventually decompose. And in that decomposition will result in rich healthy soil full of beneficial bacteria. So why not make your own compost?
I have a * compost tumbler that I purchased a few years back and I love it.
In past years I’ve just used an open-ended barrel shaped from chicken wire. While it was effective in accumulating my composting materials, it was difficult for me to turn the compost properly.
Because I didn’t turn it as often as I should the compost was too slow in completing the composting process to suit me. (although it was obviously my lack of action that was the problem.)
The turning of the compost is very important in the composting process. The pile needs to be turned several times each week to properly redistribute the compost materials as well as add oxygen.
So these days my scraps go into the tumbler, I give it a quick turn and walk away.
When we moved to the Homestead we built our house right in the middle of a cow pasture. So I figured there’s bound to be at least field mice that might be attracted my compost, and probably many larger critters as well. That also made the tumbler worth its cost to me since it’s enclosed.
But although I highly recommend it, you don’t have to have a container like mine to make compost. Many successful gardeners use various containment methods for their compost.
Things such as three sided hay bales, pallets, a circle of chicken wire or even an open pile in the corner of their yard. As long as you can add compostable material, water the pile periodically and turn it often – almost anything will suffice.
What Can You Add To Your Compost Pile?
You may wonder what can go in the compost pile? Well, the main thing I add all veggie scraps – the peels, skins, etc for the parts of our vegetables and fruits that are not consumed
Peel a banana? The peel goes in the compost. Peel a potato? The peel goes in the compost. Eat an apple? You got it, the core goes in the compost.
Keep in mind the smaller the pieces you place in the compost, the quicker it will decompose. So chop the larger pieces up if you can.
Your compost not only needs a percentage of “greens” but also a percentage of carbons, or “browns” to work properly.
Greens are very nitrogen rich and tend to heat the compost quickly. Browns are usually more carbon rich materials. They’ll not only balance out the greens but also serve to feed the microscopic critters that are working hard to make your compost for you.
A Proper Mix of Greens & Browns
A few examples of both greens and browns are:
- Grass clippings
- carrot tops
- apple cores
- banana peels
- egg shells
- coffee grounds
- black & white newspaper
- toilet paper rolls
- used tissue or paper napkins
- waded black & white paper
- dry leaves
- coffee filters
What to avoid:
- Meats / bones (attracts vermin)
- Waxy paper (slow to decompose)
- Weeds with seeds
- Grease or fats
This is only a quick list of examples but there are LOTS of things around the house that can be composted. From your vacuum cleaner’s bin to that handful of leafy weeds you picked out of the flowerbed that haven’t yet gone to seed.
The generally-accepted percentage is to add three parts brown matter to one part green matter. But it doesn’t have to be exact.
If you have too many greens your compost may begin to smell. Simple fix – add some browns.
But if your compost is too wet it may also begin to smell. You want it only lightly damp like a wrung-out sponge.
If you have too many browns your compost will slow down it’s composting progress. Again, simple fix – add greens and/or water.
Don’t forget to turn it often to keep it all properly mixed and to add that important oxygen.
Properly Balanced Compost Smells Only Like Earth
Some people might be concerned there could be a bad smell to compost. I mean, it makes sense, right? You’re rotting things after all.
But no worries, properly balanced compost will not smell bad at all. Actually it will smell like deep rich healthy soil.
For me almost anything goes for the browns. I’ve composted dry leaves, wadded up bank statements, non thermal paper receipts, torn up cardboard pizza boxes and toilet paper cores from the roll. I even add RancherMan’s hair when I give him a haircut.
I’ve read that most inks used now are soy-based so I don’t really fret too much about what kind of paper goes in the composter, although I shy away from heavily-colored and slick-textured papers and thermal-paper receipts “just because”.
Don’t forget to stir your compost often to distribute oxygen. And add enough water so it’s slightly moist.
How moist? Well most definitions refer to it as being similar to the moisture of a wrung-out sponge.
Rodents, Flies & Other Pests
What about rodents, flies and other pests being attracted to your compost pile? Well, a properly maintained compost pile does not smell bad and I’ve never had a rodent problem with any composting receptacle I’ve ever used.
But I guess depending on where you live and what you include in your compost your experience may be different.
Do avoid adding any meat, grease, milk or fat products and that definitely should help avoid that issue.
If it’s a concern, go ahead & get an enclosed *compost tumbler. That’s what we use here where there’s all manner of wild critters roaming about. Composting has never been simpler.
Composting Is Just That Easy!
So what have we learned today?
Your compost needs a mixture of “greens” and “browns“, to be turned regularly and to be kept evenly moist.
No kidding folks, it really is as simple as that! So get out there and start your own compost pile – your garden will thank you many times over. Happy Composting!
Other Compost Articles
- Easy Composting Rules For A Healthy Garden
- Don’t Worry, Compost Doesn’t Stink
- Easily Adding Cardboard To Your Compost
- Using Manure In Your Compost
- Compostable Eating Utensils
- Compostable Toothbrush
My Favorite Garden Hacks
- Easy Garden Planning Spreadsheet
- Getting A Jump: Planting An Indoor Greenhouse
- Repurposed Cardboard Seed-Starting Pots
- 3-Sister’s Garden – The Original Companion Planting
- Planting A Large Galvanized Trough
- Tricking Birds AWAY From Your Strawberry Plants
- Easy Compost For A Healthy Garden
- Propping Tender Seedlings
- Cheap (or FREE) Wood Mulch For The Garden
- Using Vining Plants For Living Mulch
- Homestead Hack: Remember Where You Planted Seeds
- How Vegetable Gardening Can Change Your Life!
- Keeping Potted Plants Watered
- Planting A Blueberry Bush In Galvanized Tub
- Stevia – Growing Your Own Sweetener!
- How I Use EcoBricks In The Garden
- Compost Old Confidential Documents
- Repurposing A Coffee Can For Deep-Soak Watering
- How Leaves Benefit Your Garden
- My Simple, Zero-Waste Herb Drying Setup
- How To Grow Fresh Salad Greens In All Seasons
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