You may have heard many people rave about how composting helps the environment. But how is that possible? And how can you start using compost to aid your garden?
Composting is often considered to be nature’s way of recycling. In fact, if you walk through pristine forests you’ll find the ground covered with compost. Decaying leaves, limbs, and trees create composting that nourishes the forest floor. If left alone, nature will take care of the waste it produces.
If nature can use composting to dispose of leaves, limbs, and animals that die in the forest, why can’t we follow suit and use it, too? It’s really not that difficult to do and can help the environment in so many ways.
Environmentalists claim that twenty percent of the trash we produce, on the whole, comes from the clippings and waste generated when we care for our yards. Instead of taking that trash to the already overflowing landfills, you can use the clippings and organic waste to create something useful and beneficial for your yard and the environment.
Consider the five components needed to compost successfully: nutrition, moisture, surface area, volume and air. While you can include grass clippings from when you mow your yard to your compost pile, those are better left where they fall to help nourish the lawn by replacing nitrogen. If you do choose to compost some of them, the clippings will provide those same nutrients to the compost pile.
Composting requires a 50:50 mix of “green” sources and “brown” sources. Green plant matter would include spoiled fruits and vegetables from your refrigerator, as well as small amounts of manure from cows or other plant eating animals, fresh cut leaves and soft stems, and weeds that have not yet seeded. Brown matter would include dried leaves, straw, dead grass, and the tough stems from vegetable and flowers. This matter will provide the compost pile with all of the nutrients it needs.
Many recyclable items can be put into compost piles. The more items – such as newspapers, food scraps, twigs, and wood shavings – that can be composted means there’s less to go into the landfills. By composting, you limit the items being sent to landfills and help your plants grow faster and healthier.
Be sure to keep the composting pile damp to provide the moisture needed for microorganisms to break down the plant matter. You’ll want to give the compost pile more water in the summer and less in the spring. You’ll also want to turn or stir the compost periodically to ensure it has enough air to sustain decomposition.
After your compost is ready, you can use it to reduce the amount of water you have to use on your garden because compost will help the soil retain moisture. The compost will also provide the plants and soil with much-needed nutrients. Get your children involved by helping gather, place, and turn the compost pile. You will be able to see how many items thrown in the garbage can be used to benefit the environment, and ultimately your family, by nourishing your garden!