Wednesday, January 23, 2019

A New Gardener's Questions About Composting

Q. I don't know if you've covered this in your blog, but should I be composting even if I don't keep a vegetable garden? If so, what composter do you recommend?

A. Sure. Whether growing vegetables or flowers, the soil and plants benefit from composting.

There are all kinds of composting devices, and sometimes no device at all; just a pile.

Compost usually needs to be turned occasionally to aerate the pile, thus allowing decomposition to occur.

Some folks simply select a site near the garden and begin dropping grass clippings, kitchen scraps, raked leaves, etc. until they've formed a pile. Then they take a garden fork in hand and begin turning their pile over after it's a few weeks old and reached a certain height, taking a forkful of compost and turning it upside down in a spot next to the original pile. Then, each forkful is turned over onto the new spot. Eventually the compost that was on top of the first pile is at the bottom of the new pile. Then another new pile is begun where the old pile once was, so two piles are created. If this method is followed again and again, several piles can be created over time. Finished compost from the oldest pile is eventually added to your garden.

Almost all devices are designed in some fashion to allow for the compost to be turned. Some are not. There are box-shaped compost bins with openings at the top to drop in the material, and doors at the bottom to shovel the finished compost out.

Others are in the shape of barrels designed for turning. The barrels may be mounted on stands that are outfitted with rollers and handles. Compostable material is dropped through a door or opening, then the barrels can be cranked to turn the compost around inside. One design involves a barrel that is mounted on low rollers. The gardener then kicks the barrel occasionally to roll the barrel over and aerate the material inside.

Choose the method that works best for you. I like the easiest method available.

If you have a lot of wildlife in your area, bear in mind that some - e.g. bears, raccoons, opossums and such - might be attracted to your compost pile. In that case, you might need to figure out some way to keep them out. A quick search of the internet should turn up some ideas.

I hope this helps.

If you have questions about composting, please add them in the comment section below.

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