Saturday, December 8, 2012

Composting Class

Hey everyone!

We had a great time last weekend at the garden starting with the Little Gardener's lesson Friday, the Urban Bike Tour Saturday, and our last workday/composting class on Sunday!

Thanks for everyone who came out to help!



We wanted to pass along some great information Rene Fuqua, a certified master gardener, shared with us during the composting class. Thank you again Rene for coming by the garden to teach us!

HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN COMPOST 

1. BUILD A SPACE FOR YOUR PILE:

First, create some sort of composting bed. The ideal dimensions are 3x3x3 feet to allow the little microbial decomposers to create an optimal temperature for cooking all the ingredients you will add. At the garden, we used 3 pallets for each pile, but there are many other methods to do this. You can use a plastic bin, trash can, or even wire fencing!



2. START BY ADDING THE BIG STUFF:

Adding the bulkier items like dead plants and larger branches allows allows more oxygen to reach your bed and gives them a better chance to break down! This will be your first nitrogen-rich layer.
    

3. BEGIN ADDING "GREEN" & "BROWN" LAYERS:

To get the pile cooking, you need to continue adding alternating carbon-rich ("brown") and nitrogen-rich ("green layers") until you get a pile about 3 feet tall. Maintaining a proper C:N ration (25-30:1) is vital to getting soil your plants will thrive on. To do this, add a hefty layer of brown materials (dry leaves, hay, mulch) after step 2. At Concho, we added 2 bags of leaves followed by a thin layer of mulch for our carbon layers. Then comes the good stuff! For the next nitrogen layer, add things like food scraps and grass clippings. Although brown, coffee grounds and filters are a very rich source of nitrogen. We add food scraps and coffee grounds Division of Housing and Food drops off to our composts!


4. WATER YOUR PILE:

As you are adding your browns, water your pile to make sure it stays moist. This helps your pile get nice and warm, which is vital for it to decompose.

5. MAKE SURE IT'S LEVEL AND LET IT COOK:

After you've built your pile, make sure it's level. This will make it cook more consistently. Now you just need to wait! Making sure your pile remains moist is important. Turning your pile every 2-3 weeks will help it break down more quickly. You can have a beautiful pile of compost in just 3 months!

HELPFUL TIPS


  • Avoid adding weeds to your compost pile. They are good little growers and can often infest your soil if you keep them in the mix! However, you can have a separate compost pile dedicated especially for weeds.
  • There are a few extra ingredients you can add into your compost to make it even richer! Rene was nice enough to share some she uses in her own compost with Concho. Vermiculture (adding worms and other microorganisms) helps increase nutrients, especially during colder months. Adding granite salt between layers helps with aeration! 

3 comments:

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  2. Love the use of the pallets to make the compost area. I have so many pallets that I can use for this. I need to start making my own compost. Thanks for the post!!

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