Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Simple Suggestion #20 of 100... Compost

On Monday night, my back yard was a slightly more happening place than usual. A few friends and neighbours stopped by for wine and cheese with a little composting information on the side. We had a pleasant evening (though it got a bit drizzly toward the end) talking about the how to's of composting. Most of those present were already actively involved in composting, just checking up on their technique.

Unfortunately, a lot of myths prevail when it comes to turning our kitchen waste into a valuable additive for our soil, the main ones being that people think composting is smelly and will attract insects and other pests. But if you know what you're doing, it's an amazing, wholistic process that means your yard no longer needs store-bought fertilizers because you have the ability to amend soil and top dress lawn with something better.

Composting really is very simple. All a person has to do is save kitchen waste from fruits, vegetables, or anything that grows from the soil (greens) and combine it with dry plant waste (browns like autumn leaves, straw, sawdust, woodchips, etc.), add a bit of soil (to provide composting microorganisms), keep everyting moist... and let it all rot. Stirring the compost pile now and again allows enough oxygen for the bacteria and other life that help to decompose the pile, and covering it with leaves helps prevent odors, and keeps magpies from carrying food scraps away.

I won't go into any more detail as there are plenty of places online where you can find information about the best ways to compost. I will, however, shamelessly flog a book written by my friend, Suzanne Lewis. She's also a Master Composter/Recycler, and she gets into the nitty gritty of composting in her book, Composting for Canada (2010, Lone Pine, ISBN 9781551058436).


If her back cover blurb doesn't sell you on the value of compost, nothing will:
Compost has often been described as black gold: dig it into your garden soil and it is an organic fertilizer par excellence, elevating the organic matter in any soil. Use it as an organic mulch and it will help reduce watering needs and keep weeds at bay as it gradually breaks down and acts as a slow fertilizer. What could be more useful? Compost can be very simply made by even the most time-stressed gardener and its needs are few. It recycles kitchen and garden waste products into something that has infinite value in the garden. In fact, many municipalities are incorporating aspects of home composting on an industrial scale to help reduce quantities of waste going into landfills. Suzanne Lewis, master composter, brings together everything you need to know about composting: reasons why, what kind of containers, what to put in and what not to put in, care and treatment, uses, plus she provides tons of fascinating information to enhance what is in essence a very simple procedure.
One thing's sure: Suzanne knows what she's talking about. If you don't believe her, my garden is a testament to the value of composting, and you're welcome to come check it out. It just feels right to give good things back to the soil, which gives us good things, and for me, that's enough of a reason in itself to compost.

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Try here.

1 comment:

  1. I must admit I get a pretty big bang outta composting!

    ReplyDelete

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