Composting for Dummies




My garden is finally at the place of production. After fighting off weeds, hungry neighbors, and weird bugs, the monster of a yellow squash plant that has taken over half the bed is cranking out some baby squash. I have 3 green bean plants that are hanging in there but not putting out that many green beans, and some swiss chard that couldn’t take the heat. My 12 tomato babies are just about to pop out some huge juicy tomatoes, and my basil is on fire! Also, I have a huge sage bush but have run out of ideas on what to use sage for other than the Thanksgiving or Special K loaf.

Since my garden has sucked me into the mysterious world of the growing seed, I’ve been experimenting with organics and most recently have bought a big old flipable composter. Since none of this stuff is common sense to me, I’ve had to read up and research all the right and wrong ways to garden. Below (for all you nerds out there!) is just a little excerpt from my instruction manual that blew my mind.

There are four basic ingredients for composting: nitrogen, carbon, water and air. Food consists of two classes of materials, simply referred to as “greens” and “browns”. Green is high in nitrogen and brown is high in carbon. The greens simply provide protein for the micro-bugs, while the brown materials provide energy. Anything in your yard is potential food for these microbes. Layer and mix these materials into the Tumbling Composter, add water and tumble to add air.

When mixed, the critical mass hits the temperature of 140 degrees F and starts to break down, then the magic happens.

Use 25% Nitrogen, 75% Carbon

Nitrogen (green)................ ........................Carbon (brown)

Table scraps, fruits & veggie scraps............Leaves (shredded go faster, best carbon)
Chicken/rabbit manure ..............................Straw
Coffee grounds ..........................................Pine needles (acidic-use sparingly)
Grass clippings ..........................................Wood ash
Garden plants, flower cuttings, seaweed ....Cardboard (breakup)
Weeds ........................................................Dryer lint (?!)
..................................................................Woodchips & sawdust (use sparingly)


After all this is done, the box claims that within 3-4 weeks, I’ll have beautiful, nutrient-rich soil that has a pleasant earthy smell.

I’ve been shoveling leaves, keeping all my compostable food scraps, and am gearing up for the winter garden that I’ll plant when we just can take the squash and tomatoes anymore.

I figure that this composter will pay for itself in about three to eight years. I’m pretty sure I’ll have way more compost than I can handle. Oh well, I’ll just have to share it then!

I think I’m about to outgrow this garden. Maybe a farm next?

3 comments:

Rachel Keele said...

this is awesome! i need one of these. and a garden.

Erica said...

i've been wanting to compost... i'm hoping to follow in your footsteps once we get back out to california and hopefully have a garden :)

sbontekoe said...

you should. Farms are fun. there is another 20 acres next to my little farm:)

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