As a natural part of the decomposition process, compost makes an excellent fertilizer and has a variety of uses for the garden. Adding it to the top layer of soil or mixing it with soil of vegetable or flower gardens helps to increase soil fertility and healthy insect and microorganism life. If dealing with particularly sandy soil or clay, the addition of compost will help to aerate and drain.
Making compost is an easy, earth friendly way to improve the health of your garden. All that is needed is a little space, water, waste, and time. Here is a quick step-by-step guide for creating natural fertilizer at home.
Clear a 4-foot-by-8-foot area that does not receive direct sunlight and that does not collect standing water during rains. If desired, a wire bin or wood pallet works well as a container. To begin, simply pile up yard wastes such as leaves, twigs, or small tree trimmings to a height of six inches, and then water the pile thoroughly. Then, add a layer of grass and fruit or vegetable clippings roughly two inches thick, adding garden soil occasionally. This creates layers of carbon and nitrogen, healthy substances to infuse in soil. Make sure to not include items that decompose slowly–meats, fat, bones, grease, fecal material–all could attract unwanted pests and create odor.
Mix the layers together and add a two-inch layer of leaves. After watering thoroughly again, repeat steps until pile is three feet high. Cover the final pile with leaves or straw to keep smell and pests to a minimum.
Every two to three weeks, turn the pile and add water to ensure aeration and moisture. In a months time, a pile of crumbly, nutrient rich compost should be ready to add to your garden!
For more information on composting, visit www.brazosmg.com. An Earth-kind Composting class will be held as part of the Gardening 101 Series on March 18.