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Eggshells to coffee grinds - Compost!

Composting is SO great for your garden! It adds nutrients to the existing soil, aerates, encourages moisture retention, good bacteria and microorganisms to flourish and it's a great way to cut down on your garbage. All you need are kitchen scraps, brown waste like leaves, water, heat from the sun, an occasional stir and time. It really is pretty simple for big rewards.

What exactly is composting? It is when moistened organic matter is heated up by the sun in a bin, breaking down and decomposing over time to make nutrient rich soil.

I was thinking that I've been composting since we've owned our own house but my composting days actually started when I was a child.

My paternal grandparents were HUGE gardeners. I'm sure my love of gardening and fascination with watching plants grow comes from them. We didn't have a compost bin back then but I remember grandma chopping up veggie scraps and mixing them directly back into the soil. Gosh did we produce a lot of veggies, in a small yard, to feed our family of 8!

I remember when I was thinking about composting, I bought a container to keep food scraps from cooking by my sink, a compost bin for outside and started adding my greens, browns and water. Occasionally I would throw in a scoopful of dirt from the garden and some worms. I watered and mixed and waited. I was hopeful but not confident it would work but when I opened the bin the following season I was SO surprised at the rich dark dirt that awaited!

Greens? Browns? What are they? Greens are basically moist organic materials like fruit and veggie peels, skins, and plants. Browns are dried organic materials that take longer to break down like leaves, twigs and hay.

I will admit that I am not the best composter. I am lazy and don't always mix, add water or even add the right amount of greens and browns but the compost is pretty forgiving. As long as you don't let it get too dry and you have mostly the right "ingredients" it will come out fine. Do it rather than not. It doesn't have to be perfect but it will give your garden huge benefits. I've turned around clay, rocky soil into dark, rich soil in just a few seasons.

I know my composting is not organic. It isn't because not all the fruits and veggies I buy are organic. It's only "organic" if the soil you start with and what you add is 100% organic. I do wash all my fruits and veggies, don't buy "bleached" coffee filters and don't spray my trees so I try to minimize the amount of unwanted additives to my compost. I think it is still worth it to the soil and the plants growing in the garden.

Below is not a compost bible but a simple list of what I do and don't add to my compost.

What I compost (if possible cut, crush or shred before adding):

  • Fruits and vegetables, peels and trimmed off parts

  • Eggshells

  • Coffee grounds and filters

  • Tea bags

  • Garden plants - only if NOT diseased

  • Leaves

  • Firepit ash

What I don't compost:

  • Large twigs - take too long to break down

  • Animal products, fats and oils - smell and attract critters

  • Diseased plants - don't want that in your soil transferring to your garden plants

  • Yard trimmings - we apply fertilizer and spot treat weeds; I don't want that in my garden soil

  • Sawdust - just don't do it, especially if it is from treated wood

  • newspaper/cardboard - I know you can but somehow the idea of adding ink and whatever they use to process paper to my soil doesn't appeal to me

My Tips for setting up your compost for success:

  • In the Fall, rake up leaves, bag them and store them where they will not get wet. You can take leaves from this supply to be the "browns" all year.

  • DO NOT add any meat or animal leftovers! This will not only make the compost smell but it will attract unwanted critters.

  • DO locate your compost bin somewhere it will receive direct sunlight most of the day to heat up its contents.

  • DO locate your compost bin somewhere near a source of water or the thought of having to carry a pail of water might deter you from watering it.

  • DO leave a stick or hoe or something nearby for you to grab to stir up your compost.

I hope you give it a try. Your garden will show it's thanks in abundance.

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