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Composting is a fairly easy way to feed the plants in your yard. It's a sustainable way to recycle plant material from your garden and return it to the earth.
Fall is an excellent time to begin a compost pile. Available in your yard are the two main ingredients: 1) dry, brown leaves; and 2) wet, not yet dried-up green plants. The dry leaves you raked up after are great to use. The still somewhat green end of summer plants, like annuals from your containers or flower beds as well as vegetable stalks also make good ingredients for compost. Together, dry and brown and wet and green plant material decompose or break down to form a wonderful soil to feed your garden next year.
There are many ways to aid the process of breaking down plants. Some are presented in the table below:
Sold in stores or online, usually with lids
Containers that turn with a handle
Sold in stores or online
DIY ( Do It Yourself)
Build a container with bricks, concrete blocks, rocks or stakes and chicken wire
Just drop plant material on top of other plant material
You will learn how to build a combination container. This simple to make container is a pile within a stake and chicken wire enclosure. The enclosure keeps the materials in the pile together. The pile won't be blown away by wind or washed away by water. The mesh of the chicken wire is open so that air circulates, assisting the decomposition of the plant material. The pile should be ready to use next fall in time to feed the roots of your garden plants before winter begins.
Two types of plant material need to go into the pile: dry and brown material, and green and wet material.
Note about the size of plant material: Some items may be too big. For example, a tomato plant stalk could be three to four feet tall. Chop it into three or four pieces with a shovel or use a pruner to make it smaller. Cutting plant material down to a smaller size will help it decompose faster.
After it’s stuffed full from fall to late winter, don’t add any more material. Let it rest. Basically this pile can be left alone. If you want, take a shovel or pitchfork to stir it up from time to time. Some people feel that stirring it will help it to decompose faster. Since this container pile will take a year to break down stirring it isn't necessary.
When a year is up, the pile should be smaller than when you began. Since this pile was started last fall, it should be ready to use this fall. Before the current season’s leaves drop, bring your shovel and wheel barrow to the container and open the gate. The top of your pile might have debris on it. Just push the debris aside. Put your shovel in and pull out the most amazing food for your garden! It looks like dirt. Shovel it into your wheelbarrow and throw shovelfuls of it onto the flower beds and anywhere else you want to add nutrients to the soil. Spread it around with the shovel to make sure that all plants in the bed get their fair share.
Place it in flower beds and around new plantings. What’s left over can be put anywhere in the garden to feed the roots for next year. Feed trees and bushes, too.
If you want, you can make a second container pile to collect plant material, once the first is full and decomposing. Having a second one allows you to keep throwing in the dry/brown and wet/green plant material all year. You'll have one in process and one ready to go. Green gardening with your yard's own recycled plant material. Just open the gate and fertilize!
© 2017 Juli Seyfried