Friday, November 4, 2011

How to compost

With TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) barrelling down on us (well, maybe :-), you'll probably want to get yourself a new hoe. And you'll be wanting to change out the political compost you've been drowning in for a much healthier kind.

Compost is cheap (practically free) and easy to make. It reduces landfill costs and space. Best of all, there is nothing better you can add to your yard and garden to keep it healthy and productive. You can eliminate or severely reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides in those areas that have a few inches of compost added to them every year, leaving your wallet and your environment healthier and more balanced than ever.

Here is the basic recipe:
Mix equal weights of leaves and grass (~3:1 by volume). Keep the mixture moist and turn it every few weeks until it turns black. Spread liberally over your yard, around your trees, and in your garden and flowerbeds. That's it.

Details and advice:
Collect the leaves in the fall and winter and then mix them with grass cuttings in the spring and summer, about 3 parts leaves to 1 part grass. Pile them separately, then mix them together using a leaf rake, raking the mixture into your compost pile as you go. You could then put the mixture into bins in order to save space if you like, but I just pile it all into one big, steaming heap right on the ground.

The whole process is simple and it does not smell bad if you mix it properly. Mix the grass soon after it's cut -- grass that sits out in the summer heat for more than a day or two really reeks.

OK to add to the composting mixure:
* Kitchen scraps
* Wood chips
* Brown shredded paper
* Rabbit, horse, and cow manure are OK to add if you like, but you'll need to compost a few weeks longer in order to remove some of the acidity if your soil is already too acidic.

Do not add:
* Dairy, meat, or bones. These decay too slowly and smell bad in large quantities.
* No dirt or "compost starter" are needed.
* No sticks or limbs. They decay too slowly and make your pile difficult to turn.
* Absolutely no dog or cat waste (yuk!).

Basically, if you just stick to mixing up leaves and grass, and turning it once every few weeks, you'll have perfect compost in no time, anywhere from 2-4 months.

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