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Organic Composting Q&A

 

Q: Why compost?

A: The reasons to compost are numerous.

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Q: How do I create a compost pile?

A: We found 2 great methods from the EPA here. See paraphrased sections, below:

Composting method 1: This one takes longer (any time from 2 months to 2 years before the compost is ready), but requires less work. It involves simply collecting green matter (grass clippings, vegetable waste) and brown matter (shredded leaves and twigs) and putting it in a pile. Add some water and cover with a tarp. Bury vegetable matter from your home about 10 inches deep as needed. Once the bottom layer is dark and rich in color, you can use it to augment planting soil and fertilize your garden plants.

Composting method 2: This way is a bit more complicated but yields quicker results. Put down 6 inches of chopped or shredded brown materials. Follow with water and 3 inches of green materials. Add some soil or finished compost and mix the layers together. Every 3 weeks or so, distribute air and water into your compost by turning it with a shovel or pitchfork. The pile should "steam" as you do this. This type of compost should be ready for use in 2-4 months.

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Q: Where should I locate my compost pile?

A: Start your compost heap in a shady corner of the yard, close to the garden if possible so it will be easy to transfer the finished product to your garden beds as needed. You'll also want a water source nearby, as water is required to help speed along the process. Some people collect their compost materials in a large bin. Other people build or buy compost bins or compost rotators.

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Q: What should I put in my compost heap?

A: You can add 2 types of biodegradable waste to your compost pile: green matter and brown matter. Green matter includes grass clippings and plant waste. Brown matter includes shredded leaves, bark and twigs. There is a whole list of (sometimes surprising) things (like tea bags and non-colored paper) you can add to your compost pile to cut down on the amount of garbage you throw away. Check here and scroll down a bit for the full list.

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Q: Is there anything I should NOT compost?

A: Yes – don't compost pet urine or fecal matter, dairy products, animal waste (meat), or the trimmings from plants that have been treated with chemical pesticides.

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Q: How often should I turn over my compost pile?

A: If you turn over your compost pile with a pitchfork every 3 weeks, you'll encourage the fastest breakdown of materials. However, this is up to you... obviously, if you're not in a rush for compost, you can turn it over as little as you like.

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Q: How long will it take to create compost mulch?

A: Any time from 2 months to 2 years, but typically no more than 4 months if you follow method 2 as detailed above.

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Q: How do I add compost to my garden?

A: With a shovel, move aside the top layer of composted materials so that you can get to the bottom layer, where everything has had time to decompose and create that rich fertilizer you've been waiting to use. Scoop up some of the finished compost and mix with topsoil, or add directly to your garden beds and then turn everything over using a shovel. Once the growing season starts, you can add the compost/soil mixture as a top layer to your garden beds, placing it around plants (but not burying them of course).

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Q: Will a compost heap attract pests or scavengers?

A: As mentioned above, we do not recommend adding meat/animal waste or dairy products to your compost heap. If you stick to vegetable and plant matter, you should not have to worry about vermin or scavengers coming to dine at your compost pile.

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Q: What is compost tea?

A: Compost tea is composted materials mixed with water to create a delicious (just kidding!) tea that you can spray over your garden beds to boost plant growth, deliver nutrients to vegetables and increase resistance to disease.

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Q: Will my neighbors get annoyed if I have a compost heap in my yard?

A: Unless they're really miserable people who look to cause trouble over nothing, there is no reason why a compost pile should cause a problem with the neighbors. There is no odor other than the occasional smell of fresh grass clippings that have been added to the pile (and who doesn't appreciate the smell of freshly cut grass?)

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Q: When can I get started composting?

A: Right now!


GardenBedsNJ.com is owned by Mike Hyde and 4 Seasons Lawn Care. We build, deliver and install raised garden beds to Hunterdon and Warren Counties in NJ and Northampton County, PA.

Contact us for more information: 908 783 5733 or email mikehyde@4seasonslawns.com today!

 

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