Tuesday, February 10, 2009

STEP 1- Compost pile

Today while I was checking out my gardening spot and contemplating the future, I began to think about the steps I need to take to have a successful garden. I decided it would be great to document all my steps on here for my entertainment and yours(trust me it will be entertaining).

Also while I was in the midst of contemplating all that is life I gazed up at the clouds It was so peaceful and tranquil then a bird pooped on me and I screamed and cried. Then I realized life likes to poop on you sometimes but then you need to just take that poop and make a garden.

Step Numeral uno- Starting a compost pile

If you are like me and never picked up a rake last year and your yard is still full of leaves or maybe you have piles of grass, leave and debris clippings laying around these will be extremely helpful in the building of our compost piles.

First you need to decide where you want your compost pile then decide if you want it just a pile or you actually want to build a box. I would suggest putting the pile near a water faucet and in a somewhat shady, damp area.

OK a compost pile needs to be at least 3x3x3 feet the pile or the box. If you are building a box no need for a bottom just make the sides 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide. A pile this size will make a good amount of beautiful black soil.

Ingredients to start- If you have horses or cattle you probably already have an enormous compost pile out in a pasture somewhere, that smokes everytime it is cold, perfect. Let's condense that down though, so you can use your food wastes and have that pretty black dirt.

You will need to gather all your carbon rich "brown" materials like straw or hay,dead leaves, cornstalks or newspapers shredded.Next you want "green" materials like manure, fresh yard clippings, kitchen food everything except meat. These "green" products are all nitrogen rich.

Now I realize for some it will be difficult to have all these materials and have enough to make a 3x3 pile or fill a bin. That's OK that's why we are starting now. It may take you a few weeks to get your compost working. Just follow the basic ideas as you build your pile.

You will also need some soil. Garden soil would be best. Just a nice loose soil free of rocks, because these rocks will allow to much oxygen to get to the black gold in the middle of the pile.

Now it is time to build your compost pile. Start with a layer of the "brown" pretty thick a couple of inches would be best. Then a few inches of the "greens" cover the "browns". Next add a thin layer of soil. Now add a layer of the carbon rich "brown's".

Continue layering until you get to the size you want (at least 3 feet high) if it takes you awhile that's OK. Make sure you have more "brown" than "green" a basic ratio.

To get the fastest results you want to turn your pile every 10 days or so. Just use a pitchfork and turn the top layer to the center. You will also want to keep your pile moist. Do not soak it though. It would be best to keep your pile covered with a tarp or lid to regulate the moisture it receives. After a while you will begin to notice creatures living in your pile that is good. And you will soon notice the center is full of nice black gold. Once you get enough of the black gold add it to your flower pots or vegetable garden.

I am going to build a compost bin tomorrow just a basic one. This will be interesting for sure. My first handyman project, since I attempted to build a TV stand 4 years ago that broke after 3 days. I am a little scared! Patrick will definitely be scared.

Things you don't want in your compost bin:::::

You don't want an excessive amount of wood ash. A little would be fine in large compost bins because it has trace elements that are good for plants. But to much will cause the PH to rise too much and will be bad for acid loving plants. If you have wood ash a better use for it would be to spread a thin layer over your garden spot a month before you plant. Also don't apply wood ash at the same time as a organic nitrogen fertilizer.

Don't put cat litter in a compost pile

dog pooh is a no, no all around

chemically treated grass clippings, yuck!!

Meat, fat, bones

I am excited to get started on my compost pile, how about you, lets go. OK not now because it is raining here.

Happy Heifer


K. T. Sparks said...

Great compost directions....I need a lot of help! Thanks for visiting me today and your comments. I always worry about the animals too. I am a super animal lover. I just read about Homer and left you a message about him. I am sorry he is sick. ((HUGS))

{i}Post said...

We have been talking about getting a compost pile going as well. It is the right thing to do!