Do You Compost?
Updated: Nov 19, 2021
When we bought this farm 11 months ago, we realized that the soil here wasn't conducive to growing produce. First off, it's hard as a rock and cracks when it's dry, making it super difficult to dig into.
When it rains, the soil turns into a chocolate milk soupy mudslide making it impossible to plant.
Yeah, welcome to plastic soil.
If you are cursed with the plastic soil on your land, or perhaps your farm lies atop a mountain of impenetrable rock, impossible to plant, you may consider composting now to "make" your own soil that is perfect for planting.
Compost is essentially a collection of organic material that breaks down in nature and creates the perfect humus, nutrient-rich material. This miraculous product of mother nature's handiwork is the foundation for which plants thrive. And the best part about it..... its FREE.
As you can see the decision to "make" our own soil wasn't a hard one. Right away we started gathering sticks and dry leaves into what would become the epicenter of our farm - our compost pile. We've added grass clippings, dry leaves, sticks, chicken manure from cleaning out the coops, food waste and so forth. It's a mountain of lasagna layered organic, decomposing material we have collected over the course of 10 months. We are eagerly awaiting springtime when we can then use our precious, nutritious soil that we have created.
Composting takes very little work, if it's done correctly. Like all things in life, balance is essential. You want to have a healthy mix of both dry and wet compost.
What can you compost?
Coffee grounds and filters
Fireplace ashes (from natural wood only)
Fruits and Vegetables
Hair and fur
Hay and straw
Paper (uncoated, small pieces)
What you should NOT compost
Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
Coal or charcoal ash
Dairy products and eggs
Diseased or insect-ridden plants
Fats, grease, lard, oils
Meat or fish bones and scraps
Pet feces or litter
Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides
Benefits of Composting
So how good is this mountainous collection of organic matter anyway?
Really good. Compost reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. It also encourages the production of beneficial bacterial and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, the good stuff. Composting also reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
If that's not enough to convince you, how about healthy vigorous plants and a bountiful harvest.
How To Begin Composting
There are 10,000 ways to compost nowadays. There are just as many containers, books, videos and products out there that will convince you of the best way to compost. None of it is necessary, however some of these products will eliminate the "work" on your behalf.
Our compost pile sits on the ground in the back of our property. We turn it regularly with a pitchfork to promote oxygenation which helps the organisms break down the material.
To keep it simple, you can start with a 5 gallon bucket with a lid that you can find at any hardware store. Poke some holes in the lid for air. Find a good place to set your compost bin - maybe outside on the porch or in the garage if you have mischievous raccoons around. Fill your bucket with coffee grinds, banana peels, apple cores, eggshells, ect. Collect dry leaves from the yard and grass clippings, and add that to your bucket. Turn the bucket on it's side (with the lid on) and roll it around every now and then.
You'll notice the mixture generates heat. Pretty cool huh?
When the mix is no longer "hot" and you have a dark, rich crumbly material, you know your compost is done "cooking". It's ready to fill flower beds and garden beds.
The best part about your compost is control. You know EXACTLY what is in your compost, and what created it. Unlike commercial compost that could contain sewage waste and sprayed grass clippings, you can guarantee the quality of your home-made product. Self sustainable living is all about controlling the quality of our food and that quality begins with the soil it grows in.
Happy Friday Everyone!