IDO: Earth Day

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Composting

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Composting is so easy a child can do it. There is nothing hard about it.

Getting Started 1-2-3

These items will get you on your way to the richest mulch and fertilizer your plants and garden could wish for.

1. A compost bin inside the house….. This could be as small as an old mixing bowl, a jug, or a rubbish bin. Just make sure that it is solid with no holes except for the top opening. You may want to have something with a lid to keep out any insects

2. A large box or container outside that is easily accessible to your garden, I prefer to use a wooden box, but any large container will do. You don’t have to spend money on it; most people have things lying around their house they can use. I only cover mine with a tarp during the wet season; it is best left uncovered so nature can do its work.  If you have pets or small children, a lid may be necessary so they are not getting into it.

3. A garden rake/fork or spade. Any will do. You will need this to TURN over your compost waste once a week or every other week.

I have a rubbish bin in my kitchen that slides in a drawer and we empty the compost every week. My 11yr old son loves to do this and he loves turning over the compost in the box outside. It’s a great activity to get kids involved in so they can see how nature recycles and breaks down. From the vegetable scraps in the kitchen compost bin to the compost pile outside to the germination and fertilizer for the garden.

Composting is not new, it is the most natural way of recycling on the planet.   It is the key ingredient to organic farming. Compost is just organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil and used on fruit and vegetables, plants and gardens. It is the richest mulch and fertilizer you could ever put on your plants. They will grow so much better and in most cases bigger with a good compost fertilizer than any store bought one.

There is some controversy over what should be included in compost piles and what should not. I am no expert, but here is what I know works and what I know doesn’t work from personal experience

 

 

What you CAN compost:

Newspapers, grass clippings (weed free), straw/hay, flowers, plants, hair clippings, sawdust, sticks/twigs, leaves, paper bags, bark, unbleached coffee filters, fruit and vegetable waste, coffee, tea leaves, cardboard, soil. Your compost should be as toxic and chemical free as possible.

Controversial Items:

I DO compost these and haven’t had a problem with them, but others prefer not to add them to their pile.

  • Egg Shells
  • Cow manure (we used to add this when we lived in the country and never had an issue with it)  they do break down quite nicely and in fact the compost we had with the cow manure was so rich it was like golden fertilizer for our plants, I’ve never had a problem with adding them

I DON’T add them because they don’t break down very well

  • Chicken Bones


What NOT to compost:


Meat, shellfish, processed foods, plastic, foil, pasta, baked goods, dairy, pet droppings, kitty litter, weeds, diseased plants / trees or leaves, dead animals, pesticides and fertilizers that have had heavy chemicals added.

How does it work?

Organic matter – Sun – Air – Moisture breaks down the natural organic composition of natural waste products and returns it to the earth. You will get earthworms, but they are GOOD for the soil and supposed to be there once all the composition breaks down to organic matter.

Once you have a good pile going, you need to aerate it every week or two to allow air into the mixture, It should be damp but not WET. If you have had no rain for several weeks or months and it is the middle of summer, a sprinkling of water would be all you need to keep it moist.  Don’t let it get so wet that it is a muddy mess.

TIP:

If it is particularly hot and you are just starting and worried about vegetable peelings flying away, you can put a bag of organic topsoil on top of it to kick it off and ensure your scraps aren’t blown all over the yard with the first big gust of wind.

Composting works best in summer.

Composting can eliminate 50-75% of yard waste from landfills. It may take a few months to get a good pile going, so don’t despair, it will get there. You will soon see rich dark brown soil/fertilizer that you can use on your plants, your fruit and vegetable gardens and in your garden

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Regrow your Vegetables

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Don’t throw away your Vegetable ends !
Re-grow them hydroponically
Place Green onion ends, celery, lettuce
in a dish or jar with tall sides and fill with
an inch or two of water,
within a week they will start to regrow
You will have Green Onions again in a week
$$cha ching, you just saved $1.30
These can be regrown about 3-4 times before they get too mangy
if you aren’t transplanting them in soil
 You just saved around $5 this month
You can repeat this process several times over
I refill my water once a week
Once a month I wash out the containers and
replace the water with clean water
Keep Fresh Herbs year round
A lot of herbs don’t survive the winter outside
but do better on a warm windowsill
Basil, parsley, chives don’t do as well in the winter months
*
I also place my store bought herbs in a shallow dish
in my sunny kitchen planter window and water them once a week
HINT: Water the bottom of the dish, not the top of the plant
and they regrow year round
I have regrown:
Thyme
Rosemary
Chives
Parsley
Mint
Basil
The more delicate herbs
like basil mint & parsley
I replace a couple times a year
with a new batch from Publix
but on the whole they last me
around 4 months
They are protected from the elements, bugs  & insects
(and the neighbors dog/cat)
And are organic and tasty in your favorite dishes
You can move them around in winter or summer if they
need more sun or shade
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