DIY composting


If you have a sizable garden, and a healthy lawn, there is no reason you can’t create your own compost.

Good compost is pricey, and much of what I see on the market is not very well composted, especially the cheaper products. Unfinished compost can rob your soil of nitrogen as bacteria and fungi work to complete the breakdown process.

You can invest in one of the many plastic barrel composters available, if you don’t have a lot of green waste. They are handy, easy and complete the composting process faster than open piles. When you have the volume of waste produced as I do, then creating large bins or just piles will be needed.

This fall, instead of bagging your leaves, rake them up in a low pile and drive your lawnmower over it until they are chopped up, and start your compost with the resulting free, easily composted materials.

I use my copious quantities of white oak, mulberry and fruit-tree leaves in the fall by mowing them up with my leaf-catcher on my riding mower. Yeah, I am a cheater when I can get away with it!

You can  also spread these leaves over a garden area that will sit fallow over winter to about four or five inches deep, letting the winter weather break down the leaves, giving the added bonus of soft, fluffy soil underneath the blanket of organic matter, and no weeds sprouting next spring.

Lawn clippings are perfect for composting IF you do not put Weed ‘n Feed fertilizer products, nor spray your lawn with pesticides of any kind, since they will just contaminate your finished product.

If you have it available, it is a real bonus if you have access to animal droppings like horse, cow, sheep, rabbits etc. Since I have sheep, I also have lots of nitrogen-rich manure and soaked bedding to add to my compost piles.  Otherwise you may need to supplement the process with nitrogen fertilizer or compost starters available in gardening catalogs.

Separate the smaller-size green waste from the branches and tough, thick stems, if you can. I have two piles for this: one for the fines and one for the thicks that get carried to the burn pile later. Layer dry with wet materials if you can.

Set a sprinkler on top of your bin or pile to keep it moist, but not soggy. Turning the pile will help break down the material completely, but I would need a tractor to turn mine as often as I need to.

Here is some of the finished product from my compost pile, it needs to be sieved out for some of the larger pieces, but it is ready for my garden. When this pile gets all done, I will have all the compost I need for my garden, with no extra cost or worry about contaminants and heavy metals that can be found with commercial preparations.

Mitsy Krzywicki (pronounced Kriz wik’ ki), a former Record Searchlight artist, now enjoys life as an avid gardener, freelance graphics artist and amateur photographer. You can drop her a line at czygyny@yahoo.com

Mitsy Krzywicki

Mitsy Krzywicki (pronounced Kriz wik’ ki), is an avid gardener, freelance graphics artist and photographer.

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