J500 Media and the Environment

Compost: From Garbage to Garden by mstinawood

My backyard is a perennial disappointment. Every spring my excitement for summer builds with false hope of home grown tomatoes, cucumbers, and reconstructing my mother’s vegetable garden. Year after year I am forced to face the unfortunate fact that nothing thrives in my yard other than the onion weeds that waft the stentch of morning breath with the summer breeze. The canopy of trees hovering over my house provide an oasis of cool shade but do not allow the sun to reach the forsaken garden site below. Despite all the misgivings of my current location, there is one outdoor project that my yard is perfect for… composting!

About one third of household waste is compostable. Combine that with the curbside recycling I recently signed up for and I’ve reduced my landfill waste to one small bag per week! Composting is easy to do and the result is nutrient rich material that will fortify your garden. All you need to get started is organic waste, minus meat and dairy, and some space. Some compost piles are enclosed, but they don’t have to be. Compost bins can be purchased or easily constructed out of chicken wire, lumber, old pallets, or fencing. Other useful tools to have on hand are a garden hose, wheel barrow, and common gardening tools. A 4 x 4 x 4 foot area out of direct sunlight and easily accessible on a grassy or soil base is ideal for your compost pile. Mix your organic materials together and add water as needed to keep the materials moist. Your compost pile should be turned over about once a month, except in winter. The compost is ready when it is dark and crumbly and none of the starting ingredients are visible. With compost you can grow flowers and vegetables without fertilizer and boost the nutrient content of your soil. Happy composting!

Tina Wood

photo credit