The Weekend Gardener and Compost

By: James Paul

One of my favorite things to do as a weekend gardener is composting. Composting and the weekend gardener go hand in hand. It is one of the best ways for a weekend gardener to feed his/her garden organically. Basically, composting allows you to turn organic waste into rich nutrients for your garden and, while composting is a very simple process, there are some basic steps that you should follow in order to build a good composting pile. I hope that these tips will help the weekend gardener to develop a love for the weekend garden as I do.

The weekend gardener doesn't really even need a special bin or box to contain a compost pile. All you really need is the compost material (although some kind of container is recommended just for the sake of tidiness and for keeping rodents, flies and creepy crawler types away).

The weekend gardener such as myself can find material for composting in forms of dead grass, leaves, shrubs, and lawn trimmings as well as left over fruits and vegetables from the table.

Most weekend gardeners including myself keep home composts contained in old trash bins with lids or even boxes made from spare wood or wire frames. The most important thing is that the pile of compost be exposed to air.

Another key to successful composting is layering. Composts should have alternating layers of green and brown organic materials. The green organic material should consist of fruits, vegetables and grass clippings, for example, whereas the brown organic material should come from dry leaves, twigs or small pieces of wood. If the weekend gardener has too much green organic material the compost will become too high in nitrogen whereas too much brown organic material in the compost will make it too rich with carbon. Too much nitrogen may cause slime and too much carbon may cause the composting process to move too slowly.

Maintenance for the weekend gardeners compost pile or bin is also important. Don't let the pile dry out. It should be regularly checked to see that its moisture is maintained and it should be watered if there is not enough moisture. It must also be regularly mixed and fluffed to make sure that the entire compost pile is exposed to adequate amounts of air. Mixing the compost pile approximately every two weeks should be sufficient. It is also best, but not absolutely necessary, if your compost pile is directly in the sun and if your compost is not inside a container of some type, the best place for it is directly on the soil.

While knowing how and what should go into your compost pile is important, knowing what should not go into your compost pile is equally important. Chicken, dairy, fish, and meat products should never go into a compost and neither should human waste or pet waste, fats and oils, diseased plants, or even plants that have been sprayed with herbicide.

Composting for the weekend gardener is a simple process and easily learned. You will also reap many benefits from composting. Not only will you be enriching your soil when you mix it with the compost pile, but you will be disposing of unwanted materials in an earth-friendly way, thereby helping to minimize the amount of garbage dumped into landfills and aiding mother earth in the process. Good luck and happy weekends from my garden to yours!

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James Paul is an avid gardener and specialized in an eco friendly approach to gardening and lawn maintenance for the homeowner. Visit his blog to ask questions and learn more here weekend gardener

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