Category Archives: Garden Basics

How to Choose a Composting Container

There are many sizes, shapes, and styles of composting bins to choose from. You can
make one yourself or opt for not using one at all and create a compost pile or heap.

A compost tumbler is a cylindrical shape much like a drum laid on its side. It can be
turned on a base that is supported on the flat ends. By turning the drum you are rotating
and aerating the materials at the same time. It is an easy and effective way to rotate your
compost.

A bio-orb container is shaped like a round ball and comes in various sizes. The benefits
of this type of container are the ease of getting it around (you can roll it over to your yard
waste and roll it back to its base), and the act of rolling it also aerates and rotates the
contents. There are many small round holes in the container to let air in too.

A wooden box with slats or a wooden framed box with mesh sides can be purchased or
easily made at home. If you can find four wooden pallets, you can nail them together to
create a compost bin very inexpensively or you can find a roll of wire mesh at your local
hardware store. Both of these options allow air to circulate as long as the contents are not
too compacted.

If you do not want to use a bin, start with a pile of glass clippings or leaves and start to
layer your food scraps on top. As time goes by and your pile continues to grow make
sure you rotate and stir it frequently. Be warned though, it is not as easy to turn a pile
that is not contained. They tend to grow in circumference over time as the pile spreads
out after rotating.

Misconceptions Surrounding Composting

Misconceptions Surrounding Composting
Misconceptions Surrounding Composting

Composting can benefit your garden and the planet (when done on a large scale) in many
ways. A lot of people may shy away from composting because of some common myths
or misconceptions. Listed below are some of the most common untruths followed by the
real information.

* Composting is creating new dirt. Actually composting is not dirt, soil, or earth
but it is humus  decayed matter that provides nutrients to soil.
* It takes a lot of time and effort to compost. Once you have your compost bin set-
up all you will only have to add new materials and turn or rotate the piles once in
a two day period.
* Having a compost is too smelly. If your compost bin has a bad odor, something is
wrong. You need to ensure there is enough air circulation and the right
combination of green and brown foods.
* If I have a compost in my back yard, animals are going to come and dig through
it. If you have a cover for your compost bin and ensure a good layer of brown
food (at least one inch) is on the top you will not have any animal control
problems.
* If I donít measure the exact ratio of green to brown food it will not work.
Composting is not an exact science if you add more green food one week and then
balance it out with additional brown food the next week ñ that is fine. You will
be able to tell with time what your compost pile is lacking or needing.

Composting is easy, environmentally friendly, and an inexpensive way to fertilize your
lawn, garden, or house plants. With some time and patience your mature compost will be
ready to use anywhere from one month to one year.

Store-Bought Fertilizer versus Mature Compost

You may wonder what the different benefits are between fertilizer purchased from the
store and compost humus that you make at home. The aim of both is the same, to
improve the quality of your garden, lawn, and soil but there are differences too.

Many fertilizers that you purchase at your garden center contain artificial or toxic
elements to make your lawn look nice ñ not necessarily healthier. The benefit of this
type of fertilization is the ability to purchase a mix that meets the needs of your specific
lawn. If your lawn is too dry, patchy, or has a lot of weeds ñ there is a product available
that can target each problem (be aware that a pesticide is part of this solution). If you are
using a commercial mix in your garden, read all labels carefully to ensure the product is
safe to use around vegetation that is going to be consumed.

In contrast, when you use compost humus as a fertilizer there isnít a lot you can do to
customize the end result. But the good thing is, you donít really need to. Mature
compost is a process that occurs naturally (in a forest, the leaves on the ground are
composted with only help from Mother Nature). The compost contains a wide range of
benefits for your lawn that do not involve chemicals.

It will really depend on your personal preference whether or not you use commercial
fertilizer or compost. If you like the idea of using compost but not the idea of making it
yourself you can purchase the compost from some gardening centers. Also contact your
cityís recycling department, they may have a program set-up that allows residents to
donate food and other organic waste for composting and then share in the mature
compost when it is ready.

The Pros of composting Versus the Cons

There are obviously downsides to composting or everyone would be utilizing this
resource instead of buying commercial fertilizers and other lawn care additives. The
downside is the time it takes to upkeep, the space to house a composting bin and the
amount of time before your first mature compost will be ready.

The benefits of composting far outweigh the downside. For the time you invest, the
space you give up in your yard and some patience you and your yard will get:

* A lesser need for commercial fertilizer or eliminate it altogether (saves money)
* Increased water retention in your soil. If there is a dry spell your garden and lawn
that has been treated with compost will fair better than those that have used
commercial products
* Improved plant growth. You will also find an increased amount of fruit or
vegetables that your plants produce when using mature compost.
* Protection for your plants from diseases or pests that can destroy your vegetation

The environment also benefits from the time you invest into composting. In addition to
eliminating the amount of waste that goes to the city dump. In some cases organic
material makes up to 45% of the garbage that ends up in a dump ñ this can be greatly
reduced by composting.

* If there is an area of contaminated soil, you can add compost to assist in the
cleaning process
* Compost can help prevent and stop erosion
* Eliminates the need for adding chemical pesticides to your garden or lawn
* Decreases the amount of methane gas that is produced at the dump (by reducing
the amount of organic matter that is thrown away)

Like any new project or habit, composting will take some time to get used to. Once you
have completed the initial start-up process the time and energy you need to maintain the
pile is not a lot.