Sunday, September 29, 2013

Compost talk

We have compost on our mind more than we ever have before now that we have more land we want to cultivate and care for. Compost was important at our smaller property too, it is always the foundation of good soil, but here we have so many more opportunities to make it ourselves.

Gidget inspects some of our compost in San Diego. She thinks it needs chicken poop. 
We bought a lot of bagged compost when we were in San Diego. We had a great source for it and it was really not optional at that small location. We did supplement the bagged compost with as much of our own as we could by way of worm bins and our two compost containers.  A happy side effect of composting at whatever extent you can is to keep organic waste from going to a landfill. 

There are more ways to make compost than I can mention but the end result is always a nutritive rich organic material that improves soil. Healthy soil is the key to healthy plants. Composting even for an ornamental home garden will make a significant difference in your results.

We are planning to compost in a number of different ways and have started with new worm bins and a hugelkultur garden bed. These are two very different ways of composting. The hugelbed is an example of composting very large materials and the worm bins are an excellent way to compost smaller material. 
Worm castings for compost tea.

The hugelbed will break down very slowly over years while worm casting can be available on a consistent basis because the worms do their work very quickly. These two forms compliment each other because the tea is used as a foliar spray and watered in to give the plants a healthy boost of micro nutrients that give them superpowers to fight off disease and pests. This will help the plants thrive while the hugelbed releases nutrients more slowly.

With so many very different ways to compost, it feels easy to get overwhelmed but don't be. Compost is one of those things that you really can't go too wrong with as long as you understand a few basics. There are infinite opinions and techniques and most of them are discussed at length through the magic of the interweb. 

If you are planning your first composting endeavor then I would suggest you consider your environment, time available, materials, and needs first. A small worm bin may be a great choice for an apartment dweller with indoor and balcony plants. If you have a small garden and don't have much time then a compost tumbler is a very convenient way to make some dirt. 

You can create compost from some worms, kitchen scraps and cardboard or you can make it with small leaves, grass clippings and manure. That simplifies it a lot but once you have an idea of your space, needs and available materials, the best thing to do is get started. 

We are planning 3-bin composting systems, sheet compost garden beds and we are even going to try composting in a ditch a few feet from a fence line before putting in some blackberries next to the fence. Our composting project to do list has increased dramatically because we have so many more materials available to compost.

We will not be producing enough of our own compost soon enough to address the dire need our property is in. We are going to have a truckload delivered to get us going while we begin to make our own. 

"Chickens and compost go together! Where are my chickens?"

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