BASICS OF COMPOSTING
Hello Acadia Neighborhood!
As we become more environmentally minded, perhaps composting comes to the minds of many. Last year Acadia Community Art and Garden Society started composting in our rotating compost tumblers which were generously donated to our garden. (A huge thankyou goes out to our valuable donators!)
It was the year of the learning curve – wrong things and some things right. We have since visited other community gardens who have been composting, watching composting webinars and YouTube videos and are learning lots! We hope to have a lovely pile of finished compost by the Fall for use in our garden!
Here are a few of the basics we have gleaned.
- The perfect compost ingredients are 1) greens, 2) browns, 3) air and 4) moisture.
- Ratio of 2 browns to 1 green seem to work well.
- Greens are the nitrogen part which help heat up the pile as they aid the microorganisms in the pile to grow and multiply quickly.
- Greens include grass clippings, fruit and vegetables peels and scraps, weeds (without the seeds), plants, tea leaves and tea bags, coffee grounds, and chicken manure (excellent compost ‘activator’). Do NOT use diseased plants.
- Browns are the carbon part whose main job is to be a food source for all the soil-dwelling organisms that work with the microbes. They also add bulk and allow air to filter through the pile.
- Browns include woods materials (wood chips, etc.), straw, sawdust, corn cobs, cardboard, and shredded paper. This is the biggest challenge – finding enough browns.
- All ingredients added need to be broken or cut into small pieces so there is more surface area subjected to air and moisture.
- Do NOT add meat, dairy, cooked items, fats and oils (which would cause the compost to smell) or evergreen tree parts. Also, avoid twigs and pieces of bigger wood as they take too long to break down.
- If your mixture smells sour or rotten, you have added too many greens or it is too wet. The compost should not be “stinky” smelly but should have a slightly sweet smell! (Who would have thought that!)
- Turning your ingredients often introduces more air and speeds up the decomposition.
- Add some water every few layers. You want moist – NOT soggy.
- As the microbes break the matter down, they give off heat. Temperatures can reach up to 65 degrees C. After the mixture cools, worms will move in to finish the process.
- Any large bits when composting is near finished can be sifted out and put in your next compost mixture.
- Composting can be done on the ground in a 3’ x 3’ space or using the rotating compost tumblers.
Composting is fun and the satisfaction of turning table scraps, grass clippings, and fall leaves into something which looks like amazing nutritious soil is well worth the effort. If anyone would like to join our composting committee, please contact one of the following emails: firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com. We would love to have you on our team!
Secretary of ACGAS
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