I am a great fan of composting. If you have a large or small garden and composting is a viable option for you, do not miss the opportunity of turning all your organic materials into “Black Gold”. Gardeners refer to compost as black gold because it has the ability to improve soil structure, increase the fertility and the water holding capacity of your soil.
There are many composting bin options in the market today. Really, all you need is a good spot to start a simple pile. My first compost pile, was a circle of chicken wire, about 3 feet in diameter, and 2 feet tall, which I placed in between some trees. I started adding all the materials collected during my routine gardening chores, it certainly helps to cut everything in smaller pieces and make sure there was a mixture of dry or brown carbon rich material and green nitrogen rich clippings and kitchen waste. When it was full to the top, I just turned it a few times in the following months and did not fuss too much with it. By the fall I noticed that the material was nice and brown and there were very few recognizable pieces of the original components. I was hooked! Today, I have expanded to a three bin system and a plastic commercial composting bin.
The four main components in composting are organic matter, moisture, oxygen and bacteria. Organic matter is a mixture of plant materials and some animal manure. Plant materials are divided into brown carbon rich materials (dry leaves, wood clippings, manure) and green materials (kitchen scraps, grass clippings, hedge cuttings). Brown materials supply the carbon and green materials supply nitrogen. Moisture is needed to aid the composting process. The pile should feel moist but not wet. Oxygen supports the breakdown of the material by bacteria. Bacteria and other organisms are the real workers of the composting process. By providing all other components, you aid the bacteria in the breakdown of plant material.
Anytime of the year is a good time to start a compost pile. In the winter, cold weather can slow the process, but as the leaves come down we are rewarded with a bonanza of material for the rest of the year. Leafmold is an excellent mulch. Leaves do take a bit longer to decompose if not clipped in smaller pieces but the final product is a rich light material that holds moisture well and insulates plants.
“Take care of the earth and she will take care of you”.