As fall harvesting ramps up, it’s the perfect time to reflect on our gardening successes and failures as we look forward to boosting the backyard garden’s performance level next season. We have a gardening-pro secret, a magic soil solution to solve those production problems: composting-it’s ridiculously easy and equally rewarding. RE/MAX has a list of everything you need to know to master the art of the compost pile.
The Perfect Compost Recipe
You’ve heard compost buzzwords like “activator,” “aeration” or “carbon and nitrogen”-it can begin to sound like a complicated science project. Start your pile with three essential components: carbon-heavy elements, nitrogen-heavy elements and moisture.
- Carbon-heavy elements include wood, shredded cardboard and newspaper, sawdust, woodchips, straw, pine needles and shredded leaves.
- Nitrogen-heavy elements like coffee grounds and filters, food scraps, manure and grass clippings, ideally outweigh the carbon-heavy elements.
- The brown to green ratio should favor the brown or carbon components. Moisture is key; don’t forget to water the pile if the food scraps don’t provide enough moisture or rain to naturally keep it damp.
Subdue the Stink and Critters
Some homeowners never consider starting a compost pile for worry of the stink and the pests that it can attract. Fear not-if you avoid spoiling the pile with certain elements, there’s no reason to worry about the stench. Moisture is key-if it’s too high the pile can begin to stink, so water sparingly and increase aeration by adding more brown components to the mix. Avoid composting meat and bone scraps because dogs, raccoons, rodents and flies will see it as an invitation to dig through the scraps. Exclude diseased plants, both garden plants and weeds, from the mix to avoid poisoning future plants that will grow in the soil.
Turn Baby, Turn
Aeration is so important to the composting process. An occasional turn mixes thing up and keeps the soil decomposing. Turning is a task that can be done easier by investing in a compost bin with a turning handle or on the simpler side, you can hand-turn the pile with a shovel to mix it up while adding more dry or wet, brown or green and carbon or nitrogen components to the pile. Add it to the chore chart and let your kids take a turn-it will be educational and fun for them to watch the scraps that they’ve been adding to the bin break down into something brand new.
Bonus! Turning the Leaves
For homeowners with big yards, ’tis the season of leaf raking. No matter how much time you spend raking, the trees just won’t cooperate. This year, turn those pesky leaves into a leaf-centric compost pile. Layer large amounts of shredded leaves with manure to create a vitamin-rich compost. You’ll thank the fall 2018 version of yourself come spring 2019.