Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Urban Composting:

   If you enjoy gardening as much as I do -- keep reading. If not, go read Franco's, Tailspin.  I've been an avid gardener for many years, and I'd like to share with you a few tricks I've picked up on, to help maximize your own growing experience.
   It all starts with good soil. People always run out in the Spring to purchase bagged soil mixes. If you buy cheap, that's exactly what you get is cheap, bad soil. There's a few great soil mixes out there, but, they are also very pricey. Why not make your own? It's easy, and not very time consuming. 
I've been composting for 2 decades, and the rewards of my efforts are seen by the high yield of veggies, & herbs I get from a small garden year after year. Plus my houseplant's just thrive from the natural nutrients from my homemade mix.
   In an urban environment, composting can be tricky because of the two S's -- space and smell. Here's a great way to avoid those two detriments, and to get you started. 
1) Purchase a 33 gal. plastic, or rubber trash can, with locking handles. With an ice pick or screwdriver poke some small ventilation holes in the sides and bottom. This enables the airborne bacteria to get to it, as you turn your pile, once you've got a few things in there.
2) put in one or two shovel full of topsoil to cover the bottom.
3) Add old veggies, fruits, peelings, egg shells, coffee grounds, used teabags, fish scraps, sawdust, bone-meal or anything else organic in nature.
4) Add some baking soda to the mix to help keep down the stench.
5) After a good rain, grab some worms and add them to the mix. They help expedite the breakdown of materials. Always keep your pile moist.
6) Roll that barrel on the ground occasionally to help mix everything up. 
7) You can use them, but try to stay away from composting weeds. They may contain some seed, that sometimes is not killed off by the heating of your compost heap, which naturally occurs as you add layers of materials. 
8) Manure is another great addition to your compost. Just don't use your house pet waste, which contain some detrimental pathogens, which will not be destroyed, even in a hot pile. Chick, goat, pig, and cow manure works best. (The last time the circus was in town, I was able to get some Elephant waste. It mixed well in my compost pile, but it took me a month to get the smell out of my Jeep!)
9) Never mix in any meat products, or salad that had a dressing on it either. Diseased or pest infested plants are another no-no.
10) I always add a thin layer of grass clippings, which really turns up the heat of your pile.
11) Add a bit of Lime Stone, or some additional Baking Soda for increased smell control.
12) Fill your barrel gradually throughout the winter, giving it a bit of moisture now and again. Only fill to about 3/4 full to give you some mixing room for your weekly roll of the barrel. 

   Your compost should be ready to use by June if you follow my method. Most people just feed the landfill with their waste. Save some space by using your waste to grow something spectacular. I always throw a couple of shovels full of  my 'Black Gold' into each tomato planting hole. This season, most of my tomato's weighed almost 2 lbs. There's many ways to compost, this is just my preferred method, which will help if you want to compost, but don't have much space to do it.
Over the next few months, stay tuned for some great tricks, and tips I'll share with you about growing bigger and better things in, and around your home--all organic baby!

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