One of my greatest friends is a compost expert. Heather has been composting for years and I am keen to learn how to produce my own dirt. I invited Heather to share her compost tips with us.
I have a dirty little secret – I’ve been living with worms for 14 years.
Ever since I moved out on my own I’ve composted with Red Wiggler worms. My husband bought them for me for Christmas – he thought I was crazy since we lived in an apartment with no garden and no where to put compost. I convinced him that our potted plants and window boxes would benefit from the castings (KG added: castings is fancy for worm poop) and if we ever had too many worms or too much compost, I would personally spread them on the lawn outside the building.
The vermi-composter was well worth the effort. The rubbermaid box was perfect in the front hall closet of our apartment. Those worms did the hard work of turning all our fruit and vegetable scraps into a rich black earth. It never overflowed, although it did get a little damp – usually when I forgot to feed it the local newspaper.
Our worms moved with us twice, until finally we had a backyard and the worms were free. There was an existing compost in our new backyard, there was no need to keep the worms inside compared to the outdoor compost paradise.
I was a bit concerned that they might not survive the first winter, but we kept the compost heap full and so it generated enough heat to keep them alive over winter. They are happily composting out there 10 years later with minimal attention. We feed them our peels and cores 2-3 times a week and cover up the fresh ‘greens’ with ‘browns’.
We have a big heap – a brick box 1m deep x 2.5m wide x 0.75 m high. We alternate sides, one year we pile the fresh scraps at one end and what we want to harvest that end on the other side. The next year we switch. This allows the worms to move over into the fresh area and lets me harvest without disrupting the worms at work.
In the spring and fall I dig out my homemade compost and spread it in my garden.
How to Compost
- Get yourself a couple of containers to hold the scraps in your kitchen. Old ice cream containers work.
- Keep all your compost friendly organics aside in your container for composting. If you are in a community that offers municipally composting, great. Give them your non-composting friendly organics.
- Layer your greens with browns on your compost heap. This keeps out pests and covers up smells. I occasionally find peels in the garden and don’t mind feeding our local raccoon. They’ve never made a mess in our yard.
- Water the heap in drought conditions to keep it moist, if needed.
- Use your homemade compost to feed your garden and enjoy.
Compost Friendly Organics
- Fruit and veggie peels and cores
- House plant parts
- Floor sweepings (small plastic toys removed!)
- Garden weeds without seeds
- House plant leaves and potting soil
- Fallen leaves
- Composted soil
Non-Compost Friendly Organics
- Prepared foods
- Meats, bones, dairy, oils
- Used paper products
- Garden weeds that have gone to seed, a home compost doesn’t get hot enough to kill weed seeds, so you would spread them all over your garden when you harvested the soil. No thank you.
Super duper thanks to Heather for sharing her compost experience. Are you a composter? Do you have any tips to add?