Looking for a free way to enhance the nutrients in your garden? One way to do that is by using a compost bin and making use of certain scraps.
To begin find the right compost bin for you and the area you live in. A compost bin can come in various sizes. They can be large or the size of a plastic storage bin, not taking up as much space for those with a smaller yard. You can create your own bin or buy one.
Place your bin in a shady spot near a water source. Starting on bare ground will allow worms and other organisms to aerate the compost. Combine materials that are rich in carbon and nitrogen.
• Carbon-rich (brown): fall leaves, straw/hay, dead flowers, egg shells, pine needles.
• Nitrogen-rich (green): grass clippings, animal manures, plant-based food scraps, lawn and garden weeds.
Layer the materials in the bin in the order of carbon-rich (brown), nitrogen-rich (green), a thin layer of potting soil, carbon-rich (brown). Moisten the layers every now and then — but do not overwater.
Every few weeks turn the pile with a pitchfork or shovel to keep materials rotated. Continue to water to keep materials moist. Keeping a lid on the compost bin will help to keep out unwanted pests.
What not to compost: meat, bones, fish scrap, oil, grease, fats, dairy products. Avoid using any weeds or clippings that are diseased or perennial weeds that may spread unwanted seed all over your yard.
Benefits to using a compost bin include being able to recycle your kitchen and yard waste, reducing landfill waste and bringing in good organisms for the soil while adding organic matter. This will also reduce the need for fertilizers. Southside Soil and Water Conservation District proudly serves Charlotte and Lunenburg counties.
Sara Pittard DeJarnette is the Program Support Technician for Southside SWCD. She can be reached via email at sara.pittard@vaswcd. org.