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A Compostition on compost

Posted in : Compost on by : Christine

Dirt, soil, compost, earth, loam, fertilizer, nourishment, scraps, ick call it what you will it is an integral part of food. Without it we cannot grow it to eat it. I have always loved how food is a cycle of life that you can experience first hand from garden to kitchen to compost bin back to garden. I am a big proponent of recycling and would love to have a big compost heap of my own but living in the desert I really don’t have much of a garden to speak of, actually I have none to speak of. I do have a healthy range of cactus and some palm trees that I manage to cultivate and the dirt is so poor here that I decided to improve the soil I have and give composting a go.  I figured that if I can make a little pile of kitchen scraps and palm cuttings work anyone can. Another hurdle I have is the fact that there are only the two of us and one doesn’t eat anything green so raw material is going to be a challenge. Like I said, if I can make this work anyone can.  Space is the another hurdle so this is going to be a small affair.  After taking all of this into consideration I have embarked on a journey to give composting a go and I hope I inspire at least a few of you to do the same. At the end of the day it may not be the magnificent pile muck for the Victory Garden I have always dreamed of but I will be doing my part to make the planet a better place and my patio a little prettier.

There are a lot of web sites about composting and I will include a few of the ones I found useful at the end. There are also different methods that will work depending on your location, needs and resources so do your research to find what will work best for your circumstances. Since I am going small scale and want a quick turn around I’m trying “hot” composting in an small outdoor bin. Hot composting doesn’t require worms and as I am starting this project in June in Las Vegas reaching the required 140 degree temperatures shouldn’t be a problem.  I bought a medium sized bin at the local hardware store (but you can use an old one if you have a spare lying around just make sure it has a good fitting lid) and drilled some holes in it for ventilation. The right mix of materials to compost should be 50% greens to browns or nitrogens and carbons.  Start by adding a layer of dirt, yes you should start making dirt with dirt; I liken this to sour dough starter. I have some pretty bad old dirt so I used that to hopefully make it better, fingers crossed. If you have some old planters use the soil from those. Next I plopped on the wet stuff or the kitchen scraps I have been saving for a week.  A pretty unimpressive amount so far but what is important to remember is that the smaller the pieces the faster they compost so I make sure I chop everything before adding to my counter top bin. Next are the dry ingredients or the carbons. These are any yard scraps, used cotton balls from my skin care routine (100%), used paper towels or napkins (recyclable), cut-up cardboard (well shredded if thick), chopped up toilet paper tubes or shredded newspaper (not glossy) and kleenex – yes boogies are compostable. Also make sure you cut these up well to hasten the composting time. You can even use dryer lint if your clothes are natural fiber and I finally found a way to use Kiah’s dust puppies! I can empty my vacuum canister right into the bin. For a list of do’s and don’ts please refer to one of the links below or my added notes and use common sense. Next mix everything up, top with a little more dirt and give it a little sprinkle to make it damp but not soggy. Since my pile is lacking greens or nitrogen, I added a little palm tree food which is nitrogen rich. I am also going to go eat some more veggies so I have more fodder to keep adding over the next couple of weeks. Turning it once or twice a week and maintaining dampness is also crucial. Once the bin is 3/4 full all I need to do is mix it up every week and keep it damp. I should have some nice new loam to add to my plants in about 6 weeks. I’ll will post my compost progress. 


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