I like to do many things the simple way. Gardening is one of those things. When I first got into composting for the vegetable garden, I noticed a lack of basic instructions. There were many websites offering information on composting. Unfortunately, none broke it down into simple steps the novice vegetable gardener could follow. This article fills that need.
Composting is simply recycling plant matter into usable rich soil for the vegetable garden.
Mother Nature composts soil on a daily basis. Leaves and other organic matter are broken down by elements and burrowing worms. This broken down matter fertilizes new growth.
Composting is a great way to make use of many items that are normally thrown away.
This dual purpose boost to the environment can make the novice gardener feel very connected to the soil. Composting is Mother Nature's recycling plant.
Garden composting gives Mother Nature a little boost.
It provides an inexpensive and natural way to fertilize vegetables and flowers for optimum growth that mirrors natural processes.
Simple step by step guide to composting.
Step one - Choose a location for the compost pile.
Compost can be made directly on the ground. This is the way I prefer to do it. The compost can be fenced in and covered to keep away marauding animals if needed. It's best to choose a sunny location on high ground.
Step two - Add the first layer of "brown" ingredients for the composting pile.
Brown compost ingredients could be straw, leaves, shredded paper, or sawdust. The finer the ingredients are, the faster they will break down.
Step three - Add a layer of "green" composting ingredients.
Green garden ingredients might include grass clippings and other plant based materials. Other green ingredients that work well in the compost pile are coffee grounds, eggshells and manure. Household garbage such as fruit and vegetable scraps are good for the garden too. Take care not to use meat scraps as they will mold and taint the soil.
Step four - Create layers
Layers of brown and green vegetable matter are added in succession until the compost pile is about three feet high. Wet each layer before adding the next. This will help the pile to decompose more quickly.
Step five - Add worms
Toss these babies right into the pile of compost. Start with 50 or so worms for a small garden compost pile. Don't worry they are self populating. Red wigglers are the best worms for this vegetable gardening job. They add to the compost by eating, digesting and processing the pile into rich dark soil.
Step six - Keep the compost pile moist and maintained.
It should be like a damp sponge. Add more green (wet) ingredients if the compost seems dry, or wet it slightly with a hose. If the garden compost seems wet, add more dry (brown) ingredients. Turn the compost daily with a pitchfork to help with air circulation.
Note: You'll know when compost is ready to use in the garden. It will be an even rich black color. Compost may be used as potting soil, garden soil, or fertilizer. Used on its own as the main soil, compost produces delicious vegetables, herbs and beautiful flowers. What a fabulous way to be a part of the natural cycle of the earth.
Please note: This article was previously published by this author on Yahoo! Voices