Composting: The Ultimate in Recycling


Composting is the ultimate in recycling. Almost everything we throw away can be recycled or composted. Composting is simply the returning of organic materials back to the earth.

Some of the more common ingredients of compost are grass clippings, leaves, old newspapers or paper products and vegetable trimmings. Mulch on flowerbeds is a prime example of composting. After a certain length of time, the mulch becomes compost.

A compost pile can be placed directly on the ground or in a shallow hole in the ground or in a container. All that is needed are the materials that are to be composted, water and a spade.

Starting a compost pile is safe, easy and within the reach of everyone. Even apartment dwellers with limited time and space can find a few minutes and a suitable container. First, find an out of the way location. This should be a sunny location, preferably in a place that does not attract too much attention. Make a pile of the materials that are to be composted (grass clipping, leaves, etc.). Some enthusiasts prefer to alternate layers of materials (i.e. clipping then leaves then vegetable trimmings etc.). Water should be added to make the pile moist.

Note of caution; while table scraps can be composted, they tend to attract ants, flies and other undesirable insects. Meat and other scrap items containing grease or cooking oils should not be added to the compost pile. In addition to the insect problem these items tend to generate a foul odor. Egg shells and coffee grinds are two items that should definitely be added to the mix. Egg shells provide calcium that will ultimately increase foliage and blooms when the compost is used.

The heat generated by the composting is usually sufficient to neutralize most bacteria and viruses. However as a precaution it is preferable to not include material contaminated with bacteria, virus or mold. Such contaminants could possibly be passed on to healthy plants during use of the compost.

In a few days, the pile will begin to dry out and decomposition will start. The pile should be kept moist but not wet. About once a week, the pile should be well agitated with the spade to increase oxygen to the mix. Note that the center of the pile will reach temperatures hot enough to create vapor from the moisture. This is normal and should be encouraged.

After about two or three weeks compost will begin to appear. What appears to be potting soil will begin to accumulate near the bottom of the pile as well as in the center of the pile. Also, earthworms will begin to appear and increase in number. This is a sign of a healthy compost pile.

After about six to nine months the compost will be complete. The resulting compost will be a potting soil additive rich in vitamins and minerals for your garden and indoor plants.

Composting is a safe, easy and economical way to create an organic potting soil additive rich in nutrients. The finished product can be used on flowerbeds, rose beds and potted plants to increase foliage and blooms.


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