Sunday, June 12, 2005

Composting 101 (dedicated to Russell)

Recently while dining at In-N-Out, Russell looked at the landscaping dirt and declared "Hey Fergie, not a lot of compost in this soil, huh?" Thus ensued a hearty discussion on decomposition. Russell was apparently so enthralled with the making of dirt that he suggested I make a new post dedicated to this subject. So here you go.

STEP 1: Containerizing your compost
Compost bins
Compost is decomposed organic matter. Adding it to your garden gives your plants nice, fluffy, moisture-retaining dirt that's chock full o' vitamins. You want to keep all this stuff contained in a nice pile about 3'x3'x3'. It needs access to the ground for earthworms and slats for proper aeration (this also helps to keep the critters out). I use two piles so I can have one for adding new stuff, while the other works on decomposing.

STEP 2: What goes in?
Compost goodies
For the best results you needs a balanced mixture of green matter like kitchen scraps and grass clippings, and brown matter such as dead leaves and straw. Recently added to my pile (see photo) were leaves, grass, old lettuce, and hops from Steve's homebrew. Keep adding to the pile, wet thoroughly, and mix it up frequently to give the creepy-crawlies full access to the schmorgasbord.

STEP 3: When is it done?
This dirt is done!
When you get dirt, you're done! The compost (also called humus) should be crumbly and moist, and packed with earthworms. Go ahead and add it to the garden. You can never have enough.

STEP 4: New Life
Squash seedling
You invariably throw out some seeds when you add kitchen scraps to your compost pile. Later these end up sprouting when the compost is mixed into the garden soil. Here's a surprise baby squash growing from the remains of its mother. Thanks mom, you make good dirt.

STEP 5: Happy, Healthy Garden
My veggie garden
If all goes well then you should end up with a productive garden. This was my vegetable garden last year when I grew zucchini, green beans, and tomatoes. And when the plants died I threw them back in the compost pile. It's the Circle of Life!


At 8:44 AM, Blogger CK said...

That's lovely! I like the picture of the hands holding the compost. That looks like it would be the logo on an organic compost bag, called Good Earth Humus or something like that.

At 10:24 AM, Blogger Ferg said...

Yeah...I stole the picture of the hands from a compost website.

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Russell said...

The saddest part might be that there was a compost website.

Thanks, Ferg, for setting up a great little lesson on compost. You should really try to add some pictures of the insects and rodents that compost piles attract. By the way, I don't think I'll ever have a compost pile of my own.


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