[Infographic] How to create your urban garden?
Soil that is rich with natural ingredients and a positive microbe count is the secret to a strong garden, and compost is one of the best ways to add those magical microbes and healthy nutrients to your soil. I often get the question “Why and How Do I Compost?” First reason on my list is that landfills are being smothered in yard clippings and food scraps. These ingredients are one quarter of the United States’ solid waste landfills alone. Methane is a greenhouse gas over twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide, and this is what organic matter transforms into in landfills when it decomposes beneath all the tons of trash without consistent air exposure. This is happening all over the world and creating a global crisis.
Converting garden and kitchen waste into rich soil matter is called composting. It is an open air process that does not produce toxicity and it is one of nature’s richest soil amendments and mulches. It saves you money because it costs very little make and is an absolutely magnificent soil addition, adding microbes and bacteria to your plants’ root systems.
There are several ways to compost – you can compost using a composter or try the pile method. There are dozens of different types of composters, so for now we will not discuss types of composters, simply discuss how to compost.
Your pile of compost needs a proper mixture of “browns”, which are carbon-rich materials; and “greens”, which are nitrogen-rich materials; and water. Remember, that to keep your compost organic, you will need to add natural products that do not have chemicals, fungicides, or weed killer in them.
Below is a list of browns and greens you might consider using in your compost pile.
To have the most success, you will need to turn the pile occasionally. It takes about three and four weeks to create compost if there is sufficient moisture and turning. Speed is determined by how often you turn the pile and the products you add. For example, if the contents are chopped up it will be easier for the microbes in the compost pile to break them down. Of course, a good balance of carbon and nitrogen encourages quicker composting.
Your compost pile should be warm or hot to the touch because the temperature of the managed pile is important—it indicates the activity of the decomposition process. If the pile is not warm, then the microbial activity has slowed down and you need to add more green materials. Place the compost pile in full sun to increase activity.
Organic waste needs water to decompose, so keeping the pile moist is also important. Gray water, such as old dish water, cooking water, or clothes washer water from your home can be drained into a compost pile regularly to increase the moisture level. Keeping the pile as moist as a wrung-out sponge is the level of moisture you want. If you actively manage the composting, within a few weeks you will have a rich soil additive for your garden.
Shawna Coronado is a successful author, blogger, photographer, and media host who focuses on wellness by teaching green lifestyle living, organic gardening, and anti-inflammatory culinary. Most recently Shawna has written the books, “Grow a Living Wall” and “101 Organic Gardening Hacks”. Shawna campaigns for social and community good – her garden, food, and eco-adventures have been featured in many media venues including television news programming, radio broadcasting, and PBS television. You can learn more about Shawna at www.shawnacoronado.com.
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