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Last Updated on:  12/16/2015 04:00 PM

Joy Blooms in the Garden

Joy Blooms  -- Compost It

Everything you ever wanted to know about composting:  Let's get Started   
Basic How-To    Tip & Tricks
    FAQ     Build a Bin     What's In?     Brown & Green    
Now What?     What's went Wrong    Unusual Compost Items      Say It Ain't So     
Composting Learning Resources & Supplies

Last Edited on:  12/16/2015 08:07 AM

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Collection of Tips & Tricks for Enhancing your Compost Experience
Sorry, these are in no particular order

Compost Pile.  You can be set up a compost pile in any corner of the yard.  It does not have to be elaborate bins. Simply select a level location of  3 to 5 square feet.  It should be near a water source and out of direct sunlight. Remove grass and/or weeds.   Start your pile - leave enough space for air to reach the pile (i.e. don't put directly against a wooden fence or brick wall).
Add Peat Moss.   Peat Moss works in your compost pile extends the life of your finished compost in your garden soil.  Peat moss restructures soil while pure compost provides essential nutrients.  The combination is awesome.  The peat moss helps to aerate the pile and make it "fluffy". 
Organic Matter decays.  Any pile of organic material will eventually decompose even if you did nothing.  The purpose of composting is to speed up the process.  Locate your pile over soil or even a portion of your lawn.  Do not put it on concrete, brick or asphalt.  Located directed on the ground allow beneficial insects, microbes & worms to migrate into your pile.
Be courteous to your neighbors.  Locate your compost pile discretely if your neighbor's yard is close.  Be a good neighbor and put some distance, as well as some visual barriers between your compost bin/pile and your neighbors.
Be careful of grass clippings.  Although grass clippings are a great source of nitrogen and will break down pretty quickly, you have to take extra steps when putting them in the compost pile.  Always mix grass clipping thoroughly in the pile because they have a tendency to mat together and then they stink.  You are well advised to add brown materials when mixing in grass clippings.  Whatever you do, don't add grass clippings from lawns that have had pesticides or herbicide recently applied.
Put 200 lbs of Kitchen Waste to Good Use.   I read that is how much waste is tossed from food preparation by an average family each year.  So make a trip to the compost instead of the garbage pail.  So keep in mind that many foods can be composted, including vegetable trimmings, egg shells, coffee grounds with filters, and tea bags. So can leaves, grass, and yard clippings, vacuum cleaner lint, sawdust, and shredded newspaper be composted.
DO NOT compost meats, dairy foods, or any fats, oil, or grease because they can attract pests.
Layering Method in the Compost Bin.  First add a layer - maybe 2"-4" of wood chip or broken twigs.  This is a good foundation.  Now add 3"-6" of green items and then brown items.  Water after adding each.  The top layer is a light covering of soil, peat moss, or finished compost.  In a few days, the pile will begin to heat.
Turning Method in the Compost Bin.  Organic material - brown & green + soil is added willy-nilly to the bin.  Turning is the secret to making a success finished compost.  Always turn the pile outside in.  That is begin turn the material on the edges of the bin toward the middle.  Check for moisture and water as needed (Remember your goal is that of a wet sponge)  In a few days, the pile will begin to heat.   Your time to turn again is when the pile begins to cool down.
Finished Compost have a neutral pH reading.   As the compost "cooks" or decomposed, chemical changes are happening.  A raw compost has many microbes working to convert organic materials to a wholesome compost.  During the decomposing  process carbon-to-nitrogen comes into balance.  When the compost is finished pH level is neutral.  In most climates, the compost is done in 3 to 6 months when it becomes a dark crumbly material that is uniform in texture.
Peat moss makes your compost more effective. Peat moss restructures the soil while compost provides nutrients. The peat can help reduce soil compaction allowing more water & nutrients to get to the roots. Together they help with water retention.
The composting process takes too long.  You need to take steps to energize your compost. For example, add water if the pile is dry and mix thoroughly. Add dry materials if the pile is wet and muddy; add more browns.  If it is really wet shovel most of the pile out in the sun to dry out.
The compost pile is attracting pests. Did you make the mistake of adding meat, bones, dairy products, or oils/fats to your compost?  TAKE THEM OUT & NEVER PUT THEM IN AGAIN.  It may also be that your didn't bury or add a layer of soil when adding  kitchen scraps .
The compost pile smells like sulphur (rotten eggs).  Two possible causes - the pile is either too wet or it is matted down.  Add brown to soak up the water.  Turn, turn, turn to break up the matted material.
The compost pile smells like ammonia.  That pesky ammonia smell occurs when to pile has too many greens.  Simply add more browns.  Excess grass clippings may be the culprit.
The compost pile is damp and smell OK but not heating.  Your poor pile needs more nitrogen. Add more greens.  Some people, more experience than me, suggest toping the pile with fertilizer.  Turn, turn, turn to distribute the greens.
The center is damp, but the outer portion is dry Chances are the pile may be too small.  Increase the amount of organic material.
Pitch Fork.  A regular old pitch fork is my choice for turning the pile.
Shredded Alfalfa Hay.   Many people report that alfalfa is the best-kept-secret of compost.  I am not sure where you find it - being a city girl.
Add chicken manure or bone meal.   Both are excellent sources of nitrogen.   Adding nitrogen will jump start a stale compost.
Ready to Go.  Your compost is ready when it is dark and crumbly.  It will look more like fluffy soil.
Winter is near - take cover.  In snowy states, cover your pile in late fall.  This prevents leaching nutrients and to prevent the pile from becoming water-logged.   You know that a drier pile will thaw more quickly when spring comes again.
Size does Matter.  Compost piles that are smaller than 3 cubic feet don't heat up well.  Those larger that 5 cubic feet become matted, preventing good air circulation.
Not for seedlings.  Unless you took your compost's temperature and know for sure that the heat reached between 140-160F (the temp at which materials are sterilized), don't add compost to a seed-starting mix.  Seedlings are tender and will overtaken by bacteria that is harmless to mature plants.
Be a scrounge.  Be on the look out for sources of free composting material.   Who knows what it in or around your area -- perhaps a horse farm, a grounds maintenance service depot, a food processing plant, a woodworking shop, or ???  

Joy Blooms . . . Compost It!

Everything you ever wanted to know about composting:  Let's get Started   
Basic How-To    Tip & Tricks
    FAQ     Build a Bin     What's In?     Brown & Green    
Now What?     What's went Wrong    Unusual Compost Items      Say It Ain't So     

Further Composting Information Internet Links:

Joy Blooms . . . in the garden!

Gardening in Lubbock    Month-by-Month   Out Door Projects    Butterfly Gardens     It's for the Birds    Gardening Lessons from Daddy       
        Compost It!     Gardening Tips /Design     Veggies Anyone?    Gardening Links       Seed/Bulb Resources  My Garden Photo Albums

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