Many beginning gardeners will spend a lot of time planning out their garden, selecting the perfect seed, and sprouting plants. While each of these things are necessary, they forget one of the most important components of a successful garden: soil.
Soil is the foundation of your garden. To provide your plants with the most nutrient-dense soil possible, create your own compost. Many people hear the word “compost” and immediately think of a smelly pile of sludge in their backyard. When done correctly, however, your compost is a great way to live without waste and create rich, nutritious soil.
Many resources are available for building your own compost, but here are some basics to keep in mind as you begin.
Pick your container
You can find many compost containers available, or you can build your own. Don’t make this more complicated than it has to be. The main things you need to keep in mind are selecting a container that will be big enough to meet your needs and to allow you to turn your compost, and that your container has some holes to allow air and moisture into your compost, while still keeping out pests like mice and raccoons.
Let the sun shine in
The sun plays a vital role in helping the good bacteria break down your compost pile. Make sure your container has a lid or cover to keep the matter insulated, and make sure to place your compost in a location that receives plenty of sun.
Know your colors
When composting, you only need to worry about two colors: brown and green. Brown material is any matter that is dried: dried leaves or twigs, wood chips, and shredded newspaper. Green material has more moisture involved. Fresh grass clippings and food items (we’ll delve more into the types of food to use below) make great green matter for your compost.
What food to use
Kitchen waste provides a green matter that produces necessary moisture for your compost. Stay away from any type of protein: meat, dairy, and fish. Instead, focus on leftover bits or peels of fruits and vegetables, egg shells, and coffee grounds. These elements will help produce the dark, rich soil that makes your garden grow.
Keep the mix right
Anytime you add something green to your mix, you’ll want to make sure and include brown matter as well. This helps keep your balance right in the pile, and also provides the necessary air pockets to help the matter continue to break down.
Turn, turn, turn
About once a week you will need to “turn” your compost pile. This allows air to get to everything and helps the bacteria break it down into the good soil. A simple rake or shovel works nicely to do this.
The foundation of any healthy garden is a soil that is rich in nutrients and minerals. A backyard compost pile can provide the soil you need to help your garden grow and produce the healthiest fruits and vegetables possible. To learn more about composting, visit this great article from Planet Natural.
Do you compost? We would love to hear your tips and suggestions in the comments below!