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How to Compost

It Pays to Compost

More and more people these days are composting, and for good
reason. Composting is a simple process which offers many benefits.

When you turn your garden refuse and kitchen scraps into compost,
you are creating fertilizer for your plants and conserving
landfill space. Compost will improve your soil, giving it the
ability to hold moisture and drain well. Even hard clay soil
will be improved by adding compost.

Composting can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.
Compost bins and tumblers can be purchased or you can make your
own, or simply leave your compost materials in a pile without
a bin.

To make compost, you'll need a good mix of "brown" and "green"
material. Brown materials are things like dried leaves, coffee
grounds, shredded paper and straw. Green materials are grass
clippings, fresh garden refuse and kitchen scraps. Add the brown
and green ingredients in layers,. Avoid adding bones, meat
scraps or dairy products to your compost. These items decompose
slowly and will attract animals to your compost pile.

Manure is also a good addition to compost, but manure from
meat-eating animals should be avoided. Manure contains a great
deal of nitrogen and also beneficial microbes that will help the
composting process. Manure makes a great fertilizer, but it
should be composted before adding it to the garden because fresh
manure is so strong or "hot" that it will burn tender plants.

A compost pile will heat up and cook more quickly if it is kept
moist. Compost should be as moist as a sponge that has been
wrung out. Too much or too little moisture will slow the
decomposition process. A compost pile that is cooking properly
will feel warm or hot inside the pile. If the temperature inside
the pile is no warmer than the air temperature, the pile needs
more green material and perhaps more moisture.

Air circulation is also important for a compost pile. A compost
pile that is regularly mixed or turned will decompose much faster
than one that is never turned. But given enough time, even a
compost pile that is never turned will eventually decompose.

Concerned about the smell of a compost pile or worried that it
will attract rodents? Simply bury fresh materials in the middle
of the pile or cover the smelly material with some soil. Burying
the material in the pile will add some needed air circulation,
and the addition of soil will also include some helpful microbes.

Finished compost will look like good black soil and can be added
liberally to your garden. Make you own compost for your garden
and you will soon understand why it is called black gold.