By Katherine Mayer
Gardening season is here! For a successful end product, focus on the foundation of every garden – the soil. The quality of your crops depends on the composition and preparation of your soil. If you haven’t already made your compost at home, it might be time to try it out.
“Composting is the natural process of decomposition and recycling of organic material into a rich soil additive. Compost improves soil health by providing important nutrients and building organic material, both of which will improve plant health,” explains Erin Beagle, Executive Director at Roots to Harvest. Composting decreases the amount of waste from households and can be a cost effective way of improving your soil fertility to grow a great garden. Fortunately composting is easy to complete, regardless of having a green thumb.
If you are considering starting a compost pile at home, Beagle suggests a few, simple steps to follow
- Getting Started
It is best to use a container that’s made of sturdy material and has the bottom exposed. You can buy a composting bin or you can make your own! “There are some great DIY models online that let you reuse materials from your scrap wood pile and build something that best suits your needs,” explains Beagle.
- What Goes Inside
“Your pile needs a balance of greens (nitrogen rich) and browns (carbon rich) materials,” says Beagle. Most of your greens will come from your food waste such as leftover vegetables and fruits, egg shells, coffee and tea grounds. They all breakdown quickly and provide a good nutrient balance for your compost. For household composts, Beagle recommends against adding meat, bones, processed foods, dairy, or pet poop in your compost, as these items don’t decompose properly at such a small scale as home composts tend to be. For the browns, materials from outside the house such as leaves, weeds, old dying plant material, and garden waste are all great to add for well-balanced compost.
- Maintaining the Pile
Although it can be tempting to constantly mix and turn your compost pile, Beagle advises not to do it too often. “If you have a good amount of both inside and outside items in your pile, then turning it over a couple times a season is enough to get the oxygen to the bacteria doing the work. If you don’t turn it over, it will still compost but it will take much longer (and it might get stinky),” says Beagle.
- The Compost is Ready
Compost can take several months to a year to become fully developed and has a crumbly texture with a rich, earthy smell when it becomes ready to use. Sprinkle it on your garden, flower beds, potted plants and even your lawn to see the amazing benefits.
Still have questions about composting at home? Then join Beagle on Wednesday, April 26 at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s April Healthy Get-Together, located in ICP-Main (Room 2178) at the Hospital. The session is from 7:00-8:00 pm, open to the public and free of charge. Parking passes will be available. Call (807) 684-7237 to reserve your spot.