Thursday, December 10, 2015

Garden Tip Thursday- What Can I Put Into My Compost?

What I should say is "What should I trash and what should I keep for my compost?"

Creating a good compost is easy, think of it as a lasagna and you have to load in layers to get the best result! Turn or stir often to help the process along. By following a few rules of dos and don'ts you'll end up with a great additive for your garden!

Let's start out with the Don'ts since we want to get started on the right path. 

Do not add meat, fat, grease, bones or fish scraps (including scales, tails and heads) these often attract pests such as raccoons and insects. Most composters are not hot enough to kill any bacteria that could be present on these items, especially raw meats, and that's not something you want to come into contact when you are working in the garden..

Any plants from your garden that might have a disease or perennial weeds, the disease can spread to other plants and weed seeds would love nothing better than a new place to dig in.

Human, dog and cat manures are not to be put into a compost that will be used on food crops, due to bacteria that can pass thru the digestive system. I can't imagine using it but I had to put it out there, ya know..

If you are trying to keep your compost as organic or pesticide free as possible, avoid Peach and Banana peels and orange rinds. Unless you are getting an organic version these are the fruit with the most amount of pesticide residue.

Now on to the Do's.  The chemical benefits of compost are generally thought of as Nitrogen and Carbon, the garden and your compost will need a good mix of both.

These Items add Nitrogen to the compost:

Fruit and Veggie Scraps- cooked or raw is fine - Add a bit of dry items, such as a handful
 of leaves or sawdust to keep the moisture levels down.

Grass clippings - like the sawdust add in layers so that it doesn't mat, clumps slow down

 the process. 

Plants- dead or just pulled are fine, but make sure that any weeds have not gone to seed,

 no point in giving them a great place to germinate.

Manure- Chicken and Horse can be used but should be in a newer compost, one that hasn't aged.

 This manure will need to age a bit to be safely used around plants. Alpaca poop can be added anytime.

Coffee grounds and Tea, including the filter and bags, in moderation. Worms love coffee

 grounds so they are good for Vermicomposting too! Regular household amounts are fine, but if 
you are collecting grounds from work or in large quantities you might want to limit the grounds total
 to a quarter of the total pile.

These Items add Carbon to the Compost:

Yard Waste such as Leaves, Branches, Bush Prunings are great to add to your compost as dry items,

 and work best when either shredded or chopped into small pieces. They decompose at slower rate
 but the smaller the pieces the faster the process.

Straw, Pine Needles and Hay, are also good sources of carbon but make sure that you are using a hay

 that doesn't have seeds, you might end up with a crop of grain.

Paper and Cardboard when added to compost should be shredded or at least torn into small pieces.
This will help keep it from clumping up. Avoid using the colored/shiny Ad inserts, they don't break down
as quickly as normal newsprint, so just add them into the normal recycling bin.

Do you have a wood worker in the family, like me? Saw Dust is something that can be added but my

 advise is to add it sparingly or in thin layers so it won't clump. Kinda like cat litter is supposed to do
 when it gets wet.
 I will say we use  sawdust pellets in the chicken coops that soaks up wet droppings and goes from pellet
 to dust. When we turn the piles we always add a few shovelfulls to our compost, it's a good solutions for 
keeping new pellets in the coops and disposing of the old a bit at a time.

To round out this list, I'm adding one of my favorite options, Dryer Lint. Yes you read that right. 

We normal laundry contains mainly natural fibers, and as much of as I do I hate to throw it away.
So go ahead and add it right into the compost!

So we've talked about the science of composting, the equipment needed and what can safely go into
compost,the last installment on composting is what to do when it doesn't seem to working out the
way you had hoped. 

I've been cleaning up and getting the Jerusalem Artichokes pulled and canned, this week. 
Be on the look out for more information and a great recipe for these old fashioned treats!

Thanks for stopping by!