Posted by admin on June 19, 2011
Discover some insider tips,tricks, and techniques for creating your own compost and using it to grow the organic garden of your dreams. Topics include cold composting, hot composting, and vermicomposting.
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Posted by admin on June 11, 2011
If you are new to garden composting and have little space for a Garden Composter you may be concerned with what impact the garden compost bin will have on the garden. I would recommend new home composters with small gardens to start with a beehive compost bin if possible. It is true that in many gardens the home made compost pile is often a rather untidy affair, and the purchased garden compost bin is often not a beautiful option either, all brown or green plastic. In many situations this is fine, and indeed appropriate. But in smaller gardens particularly, where things cannot be hidden and every garden fixture and fitting has an impact on the whole, it is nice to achieve the garden recycling dream of home composting without detracting from the beauty of the garden. A wooden beehive compost bin will provide you with an effective garden composter while improving the beauty of your outside space.
It makes sense, in a small garden to have a relatively small garden compost bin. But it must still be practical. The compost bin must be large enough for you to take at least three to six months to fill. Then you should leave it alone for three to six months to decompose. During that time you need another compost bin to fill. If you only have one compost bin, you will need to take out the decomposed contents from the bottom of the bin regularly, while still continually adding to the top of the bin. This is possible but far from ideal. Two garden compost bins, or a dual chamber compost bin, is best. But I admit once you get the home composting bug, you well want more. Indeed we have four at present but in the future, who knows!
My first foray into the world of home composting was with a municipally sponsored, 200 litre capacity, plastic compost bin. I have to say it worked really well. The plastic stops the compost drying out and keeps things warm. The garden compost we got from our plastic bin was fine and crumbly and really gave me the garden composting bug. But that big plastic compost bin didn’t look that great in the small urban garden we then had.
Local councils often sponsor compost bins and water barrels. Check with yours. That was how we got our first water barrel and plastic compost bin. It made both very cheap indeed.
The ugliness of those plastic compost bins is a turn-off for some though. Indeed I have friends with small gardens who just would not have one in the garden to spoil the view. Even though they like to be ‘green’ and ‘eco’ in other ways they couldn’t bring themselves to recycle kitchen waste and recycle garden waste via such an eyesore! Daft I suppose, but true and far from rare thoughts, I imagine. Lets face it, as much as many of us like to lessen our impact on the earth we still have certain wants and needs. And, if yours is keeping the garden pretty and/or plastic free, the plastic compost bin and water barrel combo is not for you!
This is why I am such a fan of the wooden beehive composter. They are beautiful. Indeed I would love one, even though it would be totally impractical as we compost vast quantities of organic matter. They are just so attractive!
I think being able to buy a beautiful product is a great thing. If you aren’t one of life’s natural garden composters, happy with bins made of pallets, plastic and chicken wire, a touch of glamour may well motivate you. I can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t want to visit and regularly top up such a pretty garden compost bin! Surprisingly they aren’t as expensive as I assumed they’d be either, and really do make a feature out of whatever spot in the garden they appear in.
I would always advise having as large a compost bin as possible and indeed composting as much garden, kitchen and animal waste as practical. I am the proud owner of a dry compost loo, so I know whereof I speak. But, for small gardens and just those new to home composting, I think getting a pretty compost bin is a great idea.
So many people think making garden compost is dirty, or difficult, or hard work, that for them, building an array of compost boxes is never going to be even a thought. But for anyone who starts home composting even just a few kitchen scraps and lawn clippings in a relatively small prebuilt compost bin, it is still a reduction in commercial composts sold, peat bog destroyed and landfill filled.
Thus, even though I will never have one, I thoroughly see the point of the beautiful, rustic wooden beehive compost bins and still lust after them in my girlier gardening moments. But for me the whole point of garden composting is to make as much hummus as possible so they would never be practical here.
I think they would make a great gift for someone (with a pretty garden) who is yet to be converted to the merits of composting garden waste or kitchen scraps too. For those people will see ‘what is compost?’ quickly and through the rose tinted spectacles of someone with a particularly beautiful compost bin!
Sealed garden compost bins are great for composting without worrying about vermin or indeed children getting their hands on the kitchen waste. In wet climates your sealed bins mean you don’t get the whole heap too wet (which would stop the microbes being able to function). They also prevent all the goodness leaching away. Sealed compost bins are equally fabulous in hot climates where the heap could dry out (microbes do need moist conditions just not saturated ones).
If I was just starting out garden composting or looking for a small garden composter, I would definitely look into the wooden beehive compost bin option. Whether to improve the look of a small garden or because you are only composting kitchen waste on a small scale, they work well and look great.
I have lots more articles on gardening. Please check out my page and go to my blog from there!
Posted by admin on June 10, 2011
Just like people, gardens need nutrients to grow and flourish. Incorporating garden compost into your garden allows you to feed your plants and vegetables and improve overall soil quality.
You can obtain ready prepared bags of garden compost from most garden nurseries or garden supply stores. Many garden supply companies and gardening websites offer an online service and will deliver. It is important that you choose the right garden compost for your soil and particular needs. Some plants and garden shrubs such as rhododendrons and azaleas require special ericaceous compost to make the soil more acid. While other garden compost is suitable for general use for vegetable and flower gardening.
The main advantage of using compost on your garden is to improve the soil structure. Good garden soil needs to be loose and be able to hold water but with adequate drainage. Clay soil can be very heavy, so adding garden compost will improve the structure and drainage. For soils that are sandy, garden compost will absorb water and improve the water-holding capacity of the soil.
As well as improving the structure and water retaining properties of soil, the decomposing compost will gradually release nutrients vital for healthy plant growth. Nitrogen is a vital nutrient in plant growth which can be obtained from garden compost. The use of adding manure as well as compost will ensure a good supply of nitrogen if growing highly productive crops.
For those who do not want to buy their garden compost, making your own compost in your garden has several advantages. Firstly, it allows the gardener to recycle garden wastes. This means less waste to have to dispose of. Secondly, you will know what has gone into your garden compost. So if you want to be an organic gardener, you will have control over what has gone into your compost.
When deciding on your home garden compost bin it is best to design it into your garden. Making a home compost can be made from ready made plastic drums which turn, to wooden enclosures made yourself or from kits ready to assemble. Having some sort of structure for your compost will save space and hasten decomposition. If you find that the thought of your compost bin may spoil the look of the garden, then garden screens can be useful to hide it from view.
When you have to dispose of garden waste those garden jobs can become harder. But with your own garden compost patch or bin, garden clearance becomes a whole lot easier. Most organic materials will decompose, but not all garden wastes should go into your home compost. Leaves, grass cuttings, non-woody plant trimmings can all be composted. If putting grass cuttings into your compost, it is advisable to mix with other garden waste to keep it aerated. Branches, logs or twigs greater than 1/4 inch thick should be put through a garden mulcher or shredder first, as they will not decompose fast enough.
Kitchen waste is a valuable addition to your compost. Wastes such as vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, and egg shells make good compost. Some organic materials should not be added to your compost as they could create a health hazard. Pet waste should not be added nor should meat, bones or fat. Whole eggs and dairy products should also not be added as they attract rodents. Any plant that is diseased should be avoided in your compost. This is because although the temperature in the center of your compost may reach 140 degrees and kill off many diseases, you can not be sure that your compost has been sufficiently mixed to the center to reach this temperature. Using a garden incinerator to dispose of diseased plants will ensure the spread of disease is contained.
Once you begin to fill your compost bin, decomposition can take from six months to two years. The process can be sped up by mixing dry and wet materials and chopping or shredding waste as small as possible. The stage of decomposition will vary from top to bottom as you continually add more waste. The more finished compost will be found at the bottom of your bin and should be removed first.
The best system of composting is to have two bins on the go, one to add to and one for maturing. Remember that the site of your compost is important as you want it near enough to your area where it is to be used but not too close to your neighbours to be a nuisance. Once having set up your garden compost your garden will benefit from good quality garden compost to produce better plants, flowers or vegetables.
If you would like to know more click on GARDENING FOR NOVICES below.
Paul H Jenkins is a highly successful freelance writer and the author of GARDENING FOR NOVICES
Posted by admin on October 1, 2010
Black gold. Oil? Naw, new soil. Garden Composter turns garden waste into rich, organic fertilizer. SAVE BIG! Jumbo size! Holds approx. 11 cu. ft. Green Thumb alert! Here’s the ticket for your plants to be real “gushers”… healthy, lush and productive! Create your own fertile gardening soil by recycling yard greenery such as lawn clippings, leaves, weeds and natural kitchen waste into rich compost. It’s what gardeners call “black gold.” Composting is environmentally friendly. And it greatly reduces “trash” that’s normally sent to your local landfill. Right now, you can cultivate BIG bucks in savings, due to our volume buy! Details: 100% recycled plastic holds approx. 11 cubic feet; Easy access lid opens from either side (closes tight to lock out critters); Adjustable air vents; Slide bottom door for easy compost access; Compact footprint allows for placement in tight spots; Works best in a sunny location; Easy, snap-together assembly; 23 x 23 x 40 1/4″h., weighs 28 lbs. Recycle greenery the easy way. Act now! Garden Composter
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Posted by admin on September 28, 2010
Every year I start with plans – big plans. This year the big change was the new tomato plot. We planned ahead, set it up as a large triangle with layers of cardboard and newspaper covered with compost in the style of a lasagna garden. When spring came, we braced the three sides with boards donated by a generous neighbor and then covered the area with about 4 inches of soil trucked in from a local nursery. Then I planted: tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli, with a few wildflower seeds scattered across the back. Fleet Farm had the tomato supports I wanted, and we were set. Then I got sick. The bathroom/bedroom/laundry remodel ran overtime. And the weather? Heat, humidity, rain, heat, humidity, rain. The tomatoes loved it. So did the weeds. So did the neighborhood wild bunnies, when they found out that Chuck hadn’t had time to fence it in. The small furry creatures hid in the tomatoes and ate the broccoli. All of it. Eventually, I had surgery. Recovery was quick, but the weeds were still growing. I finally had a chance to weed, pulling some odd invasive plants that must have come in with the soil, as they only turned up in the triangle. One of the storms came complete with hail and bent several tomato vines, so I pruned and tied them up as best I could. One cherry tomato plant had spread its wings, er, branches so far that it put the banana pepper in its shade. I put in a second support, tied it up with t-shirt strips from Chuck’s old Survivor t-shirt (the irony was not lost on me), and then let the pepper plant grow. Again. It’s doing fine now. Nature does humble a person. No matter how much research I do, online or in books, no matter how many experts I ask, the weather will take its own course. No matter how healthy I am or vice versa, the plants and weeds will keep on growing. They’ll fall over before the wind, and I’ll pick up what I can, but the storms will arrive when they will. When it’s super hot, I’ll drain the rain barrels to water the plants. When it’s rainy, I’ll squash mosquitoes. If I’m lucky, we’ll get just enough rain to refill the barrels and all will be well with the backyard gardening world. Then harvest time arrived. Peas didn’t do well. Beans didn’t do well. Something feathered or furry ate the spinach. Zucchini came late, but seems to be okay. The tomatoes, at long last, were (and still are) my pride and joy. Flushed with excitement from my jam-making success, it was time to can tomatoes. I gathered supplies, pulled together my jars and lids and water-bath canner, examined the recipe, stepped back to look it over with pride and excitement, and then weighed and measured the tomatoes. I didn’t have enough. I’d gathered slightly less than half what I needed, not counting the plum size that were generous, but still small enough to be a hassle to peel. Heaving a deep sigh, I bought several pounds of large tomatoes from the midweek farmers’ market. Despite my new plot, composted soil, lots of rain and sun, the backyard-grown tomatoes had to be supplemented with those purchased from someone else. A farmer, yes, not a store, but they weren’t mine, and I felt disappointed – and humble. The stewed tomatoes, mine & the farmer’s, cooked up nicely, but not without drama. I found out that my water-bath canner isn’t big enough for quart size jars. It can handle half-pints (as my jams showed) and pints (barely – the water nearly overflowed). The pot and the rack are both too small for quarts. This discovery was also, you guessed it, humbling. Beginning canner and food preserver that I am, I have a dozen wide-mouth quart jars in the basement and no way to heat them – if I had enough tomatoes. Sigh. Finally, last but not least, the clear jars with their heat-sealed lids humbled me one more time. The stewed tomatoes finished up with a case of Fruit Float; the tomatoes floated on top of an almost-clear liquid. I went to my sources again (Twitter and Plurk and my best canning books) and found out that as long as the seal is complete, this is not a problem. There are ways to avoid it, which I might try next time, but it doesn’t indicate trouble or predict spoilage. Maybe next summer will be the one when I fully take control of the garden – or not. For now, I’m grateful that my garden is a hobby, albeit a productive one. I’m glad I still have the farmers’ market and the grocery store as resources. Maybe next year will be the year I humbly join a CSA. Labels: garden, kitchen stories, Random Thoughts
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Posted by admin on
Have you ever had really great soil for gardening around your house? Few do. In my case, the clay-like soil prevented good water drainage and was difficult for cultivating new plants. At other times the sand content was too high, providing the opposite problem – water retention. Additionally, a proper soil nutrient for great plants was missing. One could replace all the soil – a very expensive time consuming process, build raised beds or work to improve existing conditions. To do this, composting is the answer.
Composting is the decomposition of plant remains and other once-living materials to make an earthy, dark, crumbly substance that is excellent for adding to houseplants or enriching garden soil. It is a great way to help the environment. Composting is nature’s process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil known as compost.
Composting is a lot like cooking, and the easiest compost recipe calls for blending parts of green or wet material, high in nitrogen and brown or dry material, high in carbon.
Materials – Materials that are excellent for composting are kitchen waste, like coffee grounds, wastes, things you might throw down the garbage disposal. Meat, bones, eggs, cheese, fats and oils are not recommended for backyard composting because they attract animals. Composting materials are divided into two types, green and brown. Green materials include green leafy plant residues like weeds, grass clippings, vegetable tops and flower clippings. Brown materials include fall leaves, straw, sawdust, wood chips and shredded newspapers. To speed up decomposition, use two-parts green material to one-part brown material. For best results, mix materials high in nitrogen such as clover, fresh grass clippings, and livestock manure with those high in carbon such as dried leaves.
Compost Bin – First, choose a location for your compost bin. Place the bin at least 20 feet away from the nearest house. Avoid placing the bin against a tree or wooden building; the compost could cause the wood to decay. Bins can be built from scrap lumber, old pallets, snow fence, chicken wire, or concrete blocks. When building a composting bin, such as with chicken wire, scrap wood, or cinder blocks, be sure to leave enough space for air to reach the pile. Usually when building a composting bin, one side is left open or can be opened to facilitate turning the materials. Once your bin is in place, you can begin immediately to fill it with yard wastes and kitchen scraps. While a bin will help contain the pile, it is not absolutely necessary – some prefer to compost in a large open area.
Process – Basically, backyard composting is an acceleration of the same process nature uses. If left alone, these same materials will eventually break down, decompose and produce soil rich materials. Eventually, the rotting leaves are returned to the soil, where living roots can finish the recycling process by reclaiming the nutrients from the decomposed leaves. Home composting provides ideal conditions to greatly reduce the time it takes
Cooking refers to the process where the compost heats up and breaks down, which is necessary before you can use it as soil additive in the garden and on your house plants. The cooking process takes about 4-8 weeks once you stop adding to the bin. Don’t be surprised by the heat of the pile or if you see worms, both of which are part of the decomposition process. If you want to accelerate the process, turn it every four days, but more frequently than that is not recommended.
Carbon – Carbon and Nitrogen are the essential elements of a compost pile. Carbon rich materials are referred to as “browns”. Carbon-rich, relatively low-nutrient material are slow to decay. The rate at which breakdown occurs depends on several factors – oxygenation, temperature, water content, surface area size, and the carbon to nitrogen ratio Soak high carbon materials with water before composting. Alternate six to eight inch layers of high carbon materials such as leaves and other dry plant debris, with layers of high nitrogen material such as grass clippings, kitchen waste or manure.
Nitrogen – Nitrogen is the most important food nutrient, because a nitrogen shortage drastically slows the composting process. Brown materials composted alone require supplemental nitrogen to feed the decomposing bacteria. Greens are quick to rot and they provide important nitrogen and moisture. Add one-quarter to one-half cup nitrogen fertilizer per bushel of brown material. If you are low on high-nitrogen material, you can add a small amount of commercial fertilizer containing nitrogen. In other words, the ingredients placed in the pile should contain 25 to 30 times as much carbon as nitrogen. Some ingredients with higher nitrogen content are green plant material such as crop residues, hay, grass clippings, animal manures.
Manure – Manure may be used to increase your compost piles nitrogen supply. Animal manure should only be collected from vegetarian animals, such as horses, cows, sheep, poultry, etc. Sheep and cattle manure don’t drive the compost heap to as high a temperature as poultry or horse manure, so the heap takes longer to produce the finished product.
Moisture – Moisture and oxygen are important factors in the composting process as both influence temperature. An active compost pile will be warm – frequently between 75 – 85 degrees. Every time you add fresh grass or kitchen waste you add some moisture retention to your compost pile. Moisture is provided by rain, but you may need to water or cover the pile to keep it damp. To test for adequate moisture, reach into your compost pile and grab a handful of material and squeeze it; if a few drops of water come out, it’s probably got enough moisture, if it doesn’t, add water.
Eliminate Odor – The most common problem is unpleasant, strong odors. To prevent this ensure a good flow of oxygen in the compost, don’t overload the pile with food waste so that the food sits around too long, and if the bin contents become too wet add in more dry materials.
Home composting is both fun and easy to do, and does not require large investments of time, money and effort to be successful. Composting is an inexpensive, natural process that transforms your kitchen and garden waste into valuable food for your garden. Composting is a way to reduce the volume of organic wastes and return them to the soil to benefit growing plants. Your garden will love you for it.
Robert Schpok is an avid gardener who has used his gardening skills to greatly enhance his culinary techniques and ability to create great new recipes. Gain valuable gardening [http://www.got-eats.com/gardening.html] insight and make cooking fun at his newest site Got-Eats [http://www.got-eats.com/].
Posted by admin on September 26, 2010
Put simply, compost is decomposed organic matter. So those leaves breaking down on the forest floor are compost, as too are the bodies at the cemetery. All organic matter lives, then dies and breaks down into different qualities of compost. That breakdown of organic matter is carried out by animals, plants, moulds, microbes, air and water, basically ‘nature’ or ‘mother earth’ depending on how whimsical you feel.
That was the easy answer, but the long answer is dependent on what kind of gardener you are. Do you make your own garden compost, and if so how? Or do you just buy it in bags from the store? Every gardener who is a fan of garden composting has a slightly different method. They will use slightly different ingredients in their garden composters. So everyone’s garden compost is a bit different!
Garden soil tends to be a combination of crushed rock and mineral mixed up with hummus (the end result of your garden compost bin). Compost is the bulk within the soil but not necessarily the nutrient provider. Hummus improves the soil structure, allowing it to hold moisture and air.
The more hummus the soil has the better the structure. The soil will not be compacted, as some clay soils are apt to do. Hummus opens them out leaving air pockets which are so vital for the micro-organisms and insect life so vital to the health and vitality of the soil and eventually your plants.
Hummus is spongy and great at holding water so is vital for those with sandy soils. But, any soil will be improved by the addition of more hummus. Home compost is free and easy to create. There is no reason not to compost waste from the home and garden. Much easier to trapse to the bottom of the garden with garden waste or kitchen scraps to compost, than sort them out and place in bins for a destiny in municipal landfill.
Brilliantly, many local authorities across Europe and the US are recycling organic waste on a commercial scale. But if you have space for even the smallest beehive compost bin it makes sense to keep your garden waste for yourself and make your own garden compost. Your compost will be a very locally sourced product and free to boot!
Compost or hummus provides the soil with slow release nutrients. The variety of nutrients will depend entirely on what the compost originally was. For example composting a nitrogen rich poultry manure, will give a nitrogen rich compost.
The very best garden composts are made from a wide variety of ingredients so the resulting hummus is full of the widest variety of nutrients. The hummus which is the end product of the garden composter should be spongy in texture and full of all the trace elements needed in the garden.
So when you are making compost at home the very best approach is to put as many different things in your garden compost bin, as possible. That way you will get the widest variety of goodness to put on your garden.
It is worth telling friends and neighbours if you are starting garden composting. That way you can get more ‘food’ for the compost bin from them. Composting is the ultimate in garden recycling. And, the more you can recycle to the composter the better the compost will be.
The biggest problem most people face is not being able to fill the garden compost bin fast enough. The whole point of garden compositng, is to improve on what nature does all day every day. The earth tends to compost slowly. Moulds, bacteria, insects, scavengers all slowly turning what was once alive, into hummus to feed the next generation. If you leave a pile of dead leaves in the corner of your garden, eventually nature will break them down. But since they’re dry and exposed to the elements, along with being one solitary type of matter, the process will be very slow. Indeed you may find they’ve all blown away before you get a decent leaf mulch!
Garden composting means helping nature out. Gathering all the dead matter you want to recycle into garden compost, and then protecting it from the elements will speed up the process no end. Also using as wide variety of ingredients for your compost bins will introduce lots of different organisms that work together to make your compost useful in no time.
When carried out successfully garden compost is a beautiful, nutty product that improves the fertility and productivity of your garden. To the successful gardener, composting is a way to save money, work with the environment, recycle and reduce waste. Perhaps most importantly it is a way of ensuring the garden remains productive over the long term. If we are forever harvesting crops we literally reduce the soil bulk and soil vitality of our garden. You can see this in practice as over the years the actual level of soil on a vegetable plot will sink. Maybe more importantly crop yields and performance will falter unless something is done.
Although garden compost is not particularly rich (say in comparison with an organic fertilizer) in nutrients immediately available to plants, it is a feeder as well as bulker for the soil. The nutrients locked up in the compost will be ‘slow release’ nutrients which means putting composted matter on the garden, means feeding in the long term. This will promote tough plants which are fully developed and strong, not the sappy growth susceptible to disease which quick release fertilizers can give.
The soil life; microbes, bacteria, worms and so on will pull down the compost into the soil where it can do even more good. Best of all you don’t have to dig it in!
See I said the answer to ‘What is Compost?’ was a long one! for some people compost is a sad pile of leaves and grass clippings, fermenting in the corner of the garden. But, for the successful gardener, compost is a useful, spongy hummus and a great way to recycle all manner of garden and kitchen waste. Make sure the latter is the answer to ‘What is Compost?’ for you by looking after your garden composter!
I have lots more articles on gardening. Please check out my page and go to my blog from there!
Posted by admin on September 25, 2010
Perhaps more important than what type of garden composter you choose is where you actually put your garden compost bin. You need it to be somewhere that is beneficial to both the process of making garden compost AND, most importantly, to you.
What to Put Your Garden Composter On?
The key point is that any compost bin should be placed on the ground ideally on bare soil. Your garden soil holds all the micro organisms that will be needed to turn your garden waste into organic compost. The easiest way to ensure they make their way into your heap of organic matter is by letting it touch the soil. If you can face it, clear the ground of weeds or grass before placing your compost bin. If you don’t you may find weeds flourishing inside your bin during the initial stages of filling. Don’t worry though they’ll soon be smothered by the compost heap so this is not a critical job.
Placing the compost heap on bare soil means that as it cools, and decomposition slows, the worms can find their way in. Never put worms on your compost heap yourself. If the heap is too hot they will perish and then you have taken away a garden friend from your soil, with no benefit to the compost bin at all. Worms will find their own way in when the time is right.
If you do not have any bare ground on which to place your garden composter you can of course put it onto concrete or slabs. This will slow things down a little so either use a compost activator or throw a few spades full of soil into the bin at the start. Again do not add worms to the compost bin. Even sited on concrete those worms will miraculously make their way there when the time is right.
Do not site your garden composter on wooden decking unless you really do not mind it becoming damp, stained and likely to eventually rot.
Where to Place the Garden Compost Bin?
Obviously your garden is unique to you and so I cannot tell you where your garden composter should be located. But, there are a few things to keep in mind.
* Will the Garden Composter be an eyesore?
* Will the Garden Compost Bin be easy to use – both for filling and emptying?
* Will the Compost Bin be attractive to children or pets?
* What about fruit flies and gnats?
The initial choice is often to locate a garden compost bin as far away as possible from the house. That way you don’t see it (they’re often not the prettiest things to look at). But, are you the kind of person who is keen on traipsing through a muddy field with a bowl of kitchen scraps? If you are all well and good. If however you are likely to lapse in your composting duties if the bin seems too far away, put it somewhere closer to the house. A basic wooden fence blocking your compost bin from view can be an ideal place for some pretty climbers so that even the ugliest bin becomes a garden feature.
Whether you chose to compost all your organic household waste or just your vegetable peelings, make sure you get yourself some way of storing that waste indoors. A plastic bucket with a lid, under the sink makes a convenient holding ground for household organic waste which you haven’t got the time or inclination to dump in the compost bin just yet. There are even crocks designed specifically to hold kitchen scraps. These make composting kitchen waste a lot more attractive and many come with carbon filters which ensure no nasty smells surround the Kitchen Countertop Composter no matter how rarely you make it down to the end of the garden to empty.
In warm climates fruit flies and gnats can be a nuisance, attracted by the moisture and food in a compost bin. If you always try to cover any new kitchen scraps with garden waste such as grass clippings it will help. But, when you lift the lid of your garden compost bin the chances are you will get a face full of gnats during the summer months. If this is a concern to you make sure your compost bin is away from kitchen windows and doors to discourage any insects you disturb heading for the inside of your home.
Though you need that compost bin to be handy to fill, don’t forget about emptying it. If you are likely to want to turn your compost heap make sure there is plenty of room near it, to make the job easy. If all your composted material will be headed for a particular area of the garden, such as the vegetable patch, site your bin there.
Any compost bin which is working well because it is full of variety should not be particularly smelly to you and I. Some animals however have a much more advanced sense of smell, so are likely to be interested in your garden compost bins. I have lived with various dogs and cats, some of whom completely ignore the compost heap and others fixate on that mysterious bin continually. Most garden compost bins you can buy are pet proof. But if you have a particularly robust dog with a compost fixation think about siting it somewhere the dog does not have access to. Open compost bins, such as those homemade from pallets or other wood scraps, should be secured to prevent your pets gaining access. Chicken wire is cheap and easy to fix around the base, while the lid should be too heavy or even better hinged and clasped to prevent any pets getting in.
The main thing is to ensure your compost bin is not a ‘hassle’. Make it easy to use and you will use it more. The more you use it, the more goodness will be returned to your garden and the less waste you will send to landfill.
All to often, a poorly situated garden composter can become a neglected, expensive entity, ignored and forgotten. Composting your kitchen scraps and garden waste is a great thing to do, so do not give yourself any excuses not to continue doing it!
I have lots more articles on gardening. Please check out my page and go to my blog from there!
Posted by admin on September 23, 2010
I know I am very lucky. We have loads of outside space so can set up huge compost heaps without it affecting how much space we have to garden or entertain. But lots of folks have smaller outside spaces to work with. And, much as they may like to be a garden composter, they struggle to find the room. I know actually using the garden is likely to take priority over recycling garden waste. So what do you do? You don’t have to decide between composting waste and having room for the kids to play!
There are several options. Firstly go for a small purpose build garden composter like the beehive compost bins I’m such a fan of (purely for aesthetic reasons I admit). But, if even that size compost bin is not practical have you thought about inside compost solutions?
There are lots of worm-composting systems which it is reported can be used indoors. Now I have a bit of a thing about worms. And, as much as I see them as beneficial in the garden I have no desire to get up close and personal with a bucket load of the critters in my kitchen. Maybe you are less squeamish than I, in which case vermiculture, or worm composting is a serious possibility.
If however, you don’t want to invite any more life forms into your kitchen perhaps you should take a look into the kitchen composter. I was amazed by these products. Having never been in the market for a kitchen composter I didn’t really know a lot about them. But, more recently as my love of compost generally, and a desire to find out more widely about the subject has led me to research composting solutions more widely, I have to say I’m completely converted.
The kitchen composter doesn’t have to sit indoors but its so small that is where it is ideally suited to be. The only issue I have with the whole process is that it really isn’t a kitchen composter at all. It is in fact a kitchen waste fermentation system, which I think sounds much more exciting and techie! I know most people would be horrified about having kitchen waste fermenting indoors for weeks on end but every review of these has confirmed you don’t get any odours from the kitchen composters. But then they are sealed to keep out air and ensure anaerobic fermentation.
What is a Bokashi Kitchen Composter?
A Bokashi Kitchen Composter is a bucket with a really well fitting lid. At the bottom of the bucket is a drainage tap so you can drain off any excess moisture which is created during fermentation.
Commercial products are pretty cheap but you could make yourself one by looking out for cheap, quality buckets with lids and adding one of those cheap plastic water barrel taps.
Bokashi is Japanese for ‘fermented organic matter’. That’s what you end up with in your kitchen composter bucket.
Using a Bokashi Kitchen Composter
Using the Bokashi composter system is really straightforward. The whole idea of this kitchen composting system is that, you introduce helpful microbes, yeasts and so on to the kitchen waste. The simplest method is to buy Bokashi starter which will be sawdust, wheat or rice hulls innoculated with all the good yeasts and bacteria you want to work on your kitchen waste.
First you put a layer of the bokashi starter in the kitchen composter bucket. Now add a layer of kitchen waste and sprinkle over some more of the starter. You continue using the kitchen composter in this way till full. Ideally you would save all the kitchen scraps through the day and only put them into the pail once a day. That way you don’t keep opening the lid too often, which would expose the fermenting waste to the air. Also it means you layer the food waste and bokashi starter correctly.
Once the kitchen composter is full you seal and leave it alone for a fortnight. At the end of that time the kitchen waste will be fermented and pickled. It’s quite odd because it doesn’t look like compost at all. The physical appearance of the waste will be little changed, just a little pickled looking! But the waste is fermenting, and breaking down and will be full of the organisms to continue this process rapidly.
Once the kitchen composter has sat, sealed and full for a fortnight its time to empty the contents. Simply dig them into your garden soil (or indeed garden pots). Don’t worry you won’t need to dig huge holes every fortnight. Simply sprinkle the contents of the bokashi bin in a thin layer and cover with soil. After a month the area is ready for planting. The fermented kitchen waste will be broken down and the soil much enriched.
What is the Tap For?
As your kitchen waste ferments it is likely to produce liquid (think making sauerkraut, lots of cabbage becomes not so much cabbage and lots of cabbage juice). And, if you’re adding tea bags and coffee grounds, or other wet food items to the bin, you’ll end up with even more bokashi juice.
The tap, is so you can drain off the bakashi juice and either use it as a liquid plant feed, or tip it down the drain where its acidity will help it clean the pipes. If you have a septic system, the bokashi juice is said to be even more beneficial because you’re sending all the good bacteria that like to break up waste, into your septic tank.
What Kitchen Waste to Put in the Kitchen Composter?
This is the most exciting bit. Lots of garden composters advocate only putting certain types of kitchen waste on a standard garden compost pile. The thinking is that if you put certain items (such as cooked food or meat) on the compost heap you will attract vermin. Now, this isn’t the post to argue this particular point. Though I do feel very strongly that all organic kitchen waste should go on the compost heap and that the heap should just be made vermin proof. Otherwise I feel we’re wasting the opportunity and goodness of recycling all our kitchen waste.
I digress (I feel an altogether different blog post coming!). The point is, because the bokashi kitchen composter is a sealed unit, and that you introduce all the good micro-organisms in to make sure the waste is broken down quickly, you can put any organic waste in.
That’s great news. If you are using a Kitchen Composting System like Bokashi, you can put raw, cooked and processed foods of any kind in. Dairy, fish, meat, coffee grounds, tea bags, paper and tissues all go into your kitchen composter bucket. That makes a real difference to the amount of waste you’ll send to landfill.
Where to Bury the Bokashi Bucket Compost?
This is the biggest issue with bokashi new users. No one really wants to be digging holes every fortnight. If you have a well stocked vegetable garden or flower borders one method is to simply uncover shallow trenches between your plants and tip the contents of the bokashi bucket there and top with soil. The plants will all send their roots towards all this new goodness.
The second, lazier option is to hide a bottomless bucket in the garden. Simply empty the bokashi bucket into the bottomless bucket and sprinkle over some soil. One month later remove the bottomless bucket to uncover a bucket shaped pile of broken down humus. This sounds like a real winner to me!
Would I Become a Bokashi Kitchen Composter?
Definitely, if I had less space and if I didn’t already put ALL my kitchen waste (even the fish, meat, bones and dairy) on my outdoors compost bins. If we had problems with vermin I would consider the bokashi system, regardless of our space as a way of recycling the kitchen waste safely. But in that case I would just bung the contents of the bokashi bucket onto my compost heaps rather than bury them.
But would I buy a Bokashi Kitchen Composter? Honest answer is I’m not sure. They’re not all that expensive but I think I might get creative with a cheaper plastic bucket instead. Even the bokashi starter can be made yourself, though I’m really not sure that would be worth the hassle.
But, for those with no garden, or a lack of space for a vermin-proof compost heap I defintiely think the bokashi kitchen composter route is a fabulous option.
I have lots more articles on gardening. Please check out my page and go to my blog from there!
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‘Mature’ organic compost is a natural and simple choice for solving those problems. An application of ‘mature’ compost, along with periodic applications of compost tea, will improve the overall health & vigor of your landscape. It will also lower your overall maintenance & water requirements for the summer & thereafter. Compost is simply good for your family, lawn, & gardens.
Why use compost?
It’s simply the most natural choice available. Mature compost is safe for you and your family. It contains nothing unnatural or poisonous. Your garden & lawn will be safe for you, your children and your pets to use during and immediately after application. Compost improves your lawn & gardens’ drought tolerance and reduces watering requirements by improving the plant’s root systems and the soils’ ability to retain water. Mature compost can safely be applied around pools and applied directly into ponds, streams and rivers without risk to the environment. It also promotes & creates an environment in which birds & butterflies thrive. Your lawn & garden will have fewer weeds, insect pests or diseases. Compost allows the soil to gain strength naturally and the plants grown it will naturally thrive. Compost gives you healthier and more attractive soil, grass, trees & plants. You will need no synthetic chemical fertilizers or poisons. Co
Can using compost save me time, money & labor?
Yes! You will no longer need to bag the grass clippings or to remove thatch as compost aids in their rapid assimilation. The compost will also reduce the amount of water needed. Compost improves the heat and drought tolerance of your lawn & garden thus decreasing loss and replacement costs. Healthy plants simply require less maintenance. These facts alone save you much time, money and labor.
Does compost improve the heat and drought tolerance of my plants?
Yes! The organic materials in compost, in conjunction with the rhizobacteria and rhizofungi, naturally loosen and aerate the soil. This allows greater water & root penetration. The same combination works together to encapsulate and hold moisture in the soil by creating soil aggregates. Soil aggregates are a naturally occurring microcosmic system that rhizobacteria & rhizofungi produces in order to keep themselves from drying up and dying. The plant roots grow into these aggregates and are provided a natural reserve of nutrients and water that otherwise would have dissipated from the soil.
What is compost?
According to Webster’s dictionary “a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter and is used for fertilizing and conditioning land.” Properly composted material is heated by the decomposition process and does not have any weed seeds, nor, will it burn your plants as chemical fertilizers do.
Does compost smell bad?
No! not if it’s fully ‘matured’. We advise that you only use fully composted material. Fully composted, organic material smells like rich organic garden soil. If it smells like anything else, do not use it, as it is not mature and can cause harm to your lawn & garden. Not all composts are created equally and we suggest that you fully investigate the source of the supplier. Truly mature, “organic”, compost is totally safe & nontoxic to your family and the soil in which the plants grow.
What is Compost Tea?
A simple definition of compost tea is that it is a water extract of organic compost that is brewed in a similar way that your morning tea is made. It contains natural soluble nutrients and a great diversity of beneficial, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes. It is a totally organic, living, synergistic microcosm that introduces renewed life to the soil and plants. From our many years of experience we’ve found that compost tea supercharges new compost applications.
How does compost/tea help to suppress disease causing bacteria and fungi?
The rhizobacteria (good bacteria) controls the growth of the “bad” bacteria by keeping the soil aerobic so that the ‘bad’ bacteria cannot live & prosper. Likewise the “good” fungi compete with the “bad” fungi and keep them under control as well. Healthy soil makes for healthy plants in the same way that healthy food makes for healthy people and animals.
What do beneficial bacteria do for plants?
Beneficial bacteria make essential soil mineral elements available to the plant by decomposing organic matter and improving the physical properties of the soil. Trees, flowers and lawns that have an abundance of rhizobacteria live longer, need little to no chemical treatment, as they suffer from very few disease problems.
How does compost/tea reduce thatch?
“Thatch” is simply a layer of dead un-decayed plant material. The rhizobacteria breaks down the thatch into organic humus that is then reintroduced naturally into the soil to feed the grass.
Why not use chemical fertilizers?
Synthetic chemicals sterilize the soil and make more and more applications of chemicals absolutely necessary. This is like putting your plants on continuous life support. They may stay barely alive, but they will never thrive. Your lawn & garden will suffer from continuous problems which will require more water, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides & ever greater amounts of fertilizer. It’s very important that you don’t use synthetic chemicals on your lawn or garden.
What about weeds?
Long term use of compost and compost tea while avoiding chemical fertilizers can prevent weeds naturally. According to Dr. Ingham of Soil Foodweb Inc.: “Weeds all require high levels of nitrates, so nitrogen fertilizer actually selects for weeds, If you drop your nitrates to less than 10 ppm, the weeds leave. When you have mycorrhizal fungi directly feeding plants, you can drop soil nitrate levels below that threshold level and thistle, johnson grass, and nightshade all disappear. If you have good calcium levels, you decrease the composites, because they can’t tolerate calcium. Next time you want to get rid of crabgrass, mix egg shells into the ground.” Reprinted from the Maine Organic Farmer and Gardener. Dr. Ingham Puts Soil Life to Work – Maine Organic Farmer ’99′
We also recommend periodic Corn Gluten meal applications. Corn gluten meal is a useful, natural, pre-emergent pesticide that works very well in controlling weeds and greatly compliments the usage of compost and compost tea.
What about insects?
Any naturally healthy environment has a great need of bio-diversity. Chemically treated gardens create an unnatural and imbalanced state. Using compost and compost tea instead of chemicals promotes natural bio-diversity and a subsequent growth of beneficial insect populations. The beneficial insects prey upon the harmful pests & naturally keep them from overwhelming the garden ecology. In urban settings, it’s often necessary to reintroduce beneficial insects into your lawn & garden from outside sources.
How long will it take to see results?
You can see results within two weeks after the first application of compost. Using a combination of compost & compost tea, we have seen results in as soon as four seven days during the growing season. Your lawn & garden will continue to improve each day thereafter as the soil becomes more alive. Even greater improvement will be noticed with additional compost and compost tea applications.
Conrad Cain is the President of Home & Garden Design, Inc.
Home & Garden Design supplies residential landscape design and installation and promotes naturally organic, lawn and garden reclamation in the Atlanta Georgia area. In conjunction with his life partner Danna Cain, ASLA landscape Architect, they have more than 50 years experience in the Green Industry. Their mutual creations have been featured in national & regional magazines, local garden tours and numerous feature articles. For additional Green Living information please visit: http://www.mygreennetwork.com and http://www.home-garden-design.com