How do you make your garden grow?
The obvious answer is to buy fertilizer, but did you know that yard trimmings, leaves, and organic debris can be converted into nutritious plant food? So instead of trashing these organic wastes into overcrowded landfills, make your own homemade compost to turn this “garbage” into gardening gold!
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, yard waste and food residuals take up 23 percent of all U.S. waste. Making your own compost can be your way to contribute to environmental sustainability.
The process of making your own compost is complex, but here are the basic steps. This in-depth recipe for homemade compost will give you more specifics.
1. Find an area in your backyard to store this compost.
Most compost piles are three to four feet in diameter and four to five feet high. You can purchase your own compost bin or you can make your own out of chicken wire (or fencing) and wood.
2. Gather your ingredients.
Almost anything organic can be composted. Grass clippings, shrubbery, plant debris, leaves, cat and dog fur, house dust, and fruits and vegetables are all fair game. Just avoid meats, animal fats, pine needles, and wood scraps because they decompose too slowly.
3. Mix your ingredients together.
As a general rule, use the ratio of three parts carbonaceous materials (harder materials such as leaves, wood, and dried grass) and one part nitrogenous materials (softer materials such as food wastes). Mix these items together with water, oxygen, and compost organisms to get the process going.
4. Let it all cook in the sun.
Leave your compost materials outdoors to let the hot sun stimulate the composting process. Like any good chef, “stir” your compost every so often with a shovel to make sure the mixture stays mixed. If needed, add more composting organisms if things aren’t happening quickly enough.