Go Green – Make Dirt – Save Money

Compost With everyone going green this week and earth day having just passed us up on Wednesday, I thought I would do my part and talk about a frugal, and green topic.  Compost is probably one the best things you can give your garden to help it to grow and produce a bounty of vegetables. If you have a little bit of space in your backyard it isn’t even that hard to do. The vegetables you grew this year could vary well feed your vegetables for next year.

What you need

Space for your bin/pile – you can use any variety of the fancy bins that are out there for composting, you can even use those really neat turning barrel system, none of these are actually necessary and are just going to cost you money. The easiest way to compost is just to create a pile of yard refuse and kitchen scraps in a back corner of your yard. Your pile needs to be at least 3’x3’x3′ and no bigger than 5’x5’x5′ if you leave enough space for two piles it will be easier to turn.

Materials – You can compost almost all organic material I typically use coffee grounds (including the filter), egg shells, vegetable scraps, leaves, and grass clippings. For a more complete list check out this list of 163 things you can compost.

Water – compost piles require both moisture and air to effectively turn scraps and waste into usable dirt. Make sure your pile is going to get enough air to allow the microbes to work but not so much to dry the pile out, you also don’t want it to stay soaking wet.

Time and Turning – You are going to have to be patient as it takes time for organic material to break down, even in the most ideal environment. Compost piles require periodic turning to get the exterior of the pile, which was breaking down, into the middle. Most people turn their piles once a month or every 5 weeks. I wouldn’t turn it much more frequently. If you don’t turn your pile regularly only the middle will break down and you won’t get good clean usable compost.

That is it. You don’t need much else, maybe a pitch fork to more easily turn the pile but other than that it really just takes a little effort and a little time and you will have the best supplement for your garden that money can’t buy.

Photo (normanack)

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SavingDiva April 23, 2009 at 11:27 am

Do you have a recommendation for an inexpensive container to use in your backyard?

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2 Kyle April 23, 2009 at 6:05 pm

SavingDiva, you could buy an actual backyard composter, or you could buy a new, clean, plastic trashcan to use. Drill a bunch of holes in it on the sides top and bottom, then set it on a couple of bricks in the back yard. You can fill it with your compost and then just roll it around the yard to turn it.

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3 SJ April 23, 2009 at 11:58 am

Yay for gardening!!
That’s always been something I wanted to try (no space in apt right now lol) just to see how self sustaining that could be and reduce own landfill usage =)

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4 pfincome April 25, 2009 at 12:17 am

I actually put my coffee grounds directly into my houseplants and it works great. I never use any fertilizers and have very nice plants.

What about worms in a compost bin? They are an important part of the breakdown as well.

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5 RateNerd April 27, 2009 at 9:24 am

You can also cover your compost pile with a tarp which helps to trap moisture and heat and is inexpensive. One year I made the most amazing compost that was so good at growing my veggie garden I would have sworn it could bring back the dead! I was very proud of my compost heap!

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