Wilted lettuce, apple cores, a banana peal, tea bag, coffee grounds and dry leaves, what do these have in common? They are all free food for your flower and vegetable garden.
We have had a compost bin almost as long as we have had a garden
, I would guess around 13 years. My husband and kids built our bin as a four H project back when Ray and Sydney could barley swing a hammer and our youngest was toddling around wanting to put nails in his mouth. When we built ours we got the plans out of a composting book. You can now find the plans for a three compartment bin
online. You can also purchase them at feed or grain stores in a variety of styles and sizes
. If you don’t have a dog to worry about you can always just pile it up in a corner of the yard.
I have heard may people say they would like to compost but that it is too much trouble or stinky. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you follow a few key points nature will take care of all the work and there will be no odor.
Paying attention to what you do and do not put in is key.
1. Meat, bones, grease and pet waste. These are the items that attract critters to your bin and will cause the odors.
2. Diseased plants. If you bin does not get hot enough the disease will be put right back into your garden.
3. Weeds. Most bins do not get hot enough to kill the seeds. Nothing like replanting weeds.
1. Leaves, grass clippings, straw, and hay.
2. Kitchen scraps such as tea bags, coffee grounds, and left over fruit and vegetables. Be sure to include produce that has been forgotten about in the refrigerator.
3. Your healthy plants at the end of each season.
To make taking scraps out easy I keep a plastic coffee canister with a lid on the sink. As I cook or come across items that can be composted I put them in the bucket. At the end of the day the bucket is dumped in the compost pile and then returned to the sink for the next day. I wash the canister in the dishwasher a few times a week and when it is too icky I recycle it.
The only other thing you have to do is turn the pile with a pitch fork or shovel every two weeks and occasionally water it. The compost should be moist but not wet. The more you tend to it the faster it will break down. Honestly we have gone months without turning ours and it is fine, it just takes longer to break down.
A great resource for help on gardening in your region, including soil testing, is your local Agriculture extension office
. If you don’t live in Texas simply Google your state.