garden cleanup

Here are three simple ways to create your own fertile and rich soil-enriching compost.

Fall is a great time to get your compost up and running. All sorts of material are at hand – dry leaves, garden waste, fallen fruit, grass cuttings, and trimmings from your shrubs and trees.

Composting just happens – no matter the method you use or how much attention you give it.  Its a natural process that you can easily harness to enrich your garden soil at no extra cost to you.

The bonus? Do it now and rich black compost will be ready to add to your garden in spring. Next year you will have prettier flowers, lusher produce and a healthier garden.

Super Simple Composting Pile

One way is to just throw everything onto a ‘contained’ pile.

Add kitchen scraps to the compost bin or pile rather than the garbage.

Build or buy a simple wood frame container  or a compost bin to hold the heap. Include all yard wastes, including weeds that have not gone to seed, garden plants, dry leaves, and grass clippings. Add kitchen scraps such as fruit and vegetable peelings, crushed egg shells, used paper towels, coffee grounds, and tea bags, but not fats, meat scraps or dairy products.

Now, just wait.

Compost will start forming first at the bottom of the pile. As the ingredients decompose, the microorganisms and worms will migrate from the soil upwards toward new food, and compost will continue forming from the bottom up.

Turn the compost with a garden fork every couple of weeks to speed up the action and aerate the pile.

Shovel Composting

Another way that works well right inside the garden is sometimes referred to as shovel compost. This works well with small amounts of kitchen waste. Simply choose any spot where you would like to enrich the soil, and dig a hole or a trench.

Dump chopped up kitchen scraps into the hole and cover them with soil, chopping with the shovel to mix the soil and scraps. If you’re a fan of juicing, like I am, this is a great way to use up the left-over vegetable and fruit matter once the juice is extracted. Because the pieces are extremely small, it composts quickly.

The organic matter will become compost with no extra work on your part. Do this in your garden beds and next year you’ll have a richer soil for your vegetables to enjoy.

Two Super Simple Composting Bins

If you have access to some straw bales or concrete blocks, this can spark another way to make a compost bin easily. Stacking the straw bales two high into a 3-sided enclosure. You will probably need about 10 bales. The bales will not only hold the material, but will help retain heat and moisture as the compost starts working. In a couple of years, the straw bales will be partly decomposed, and will become ingredients in your new straw bale bin, made with fresh new bales.

Concrete blocks are usually 8″x8″x16″inches, so calculate how many you need.  Stack concrete blocks three high to make a 4 sided enclosure that is about 36 inches square. Alternate them in a brick pattern for strength.  Leave small gaps between the blocks for air to move through. Place a removable screen or piece of plywood on top as a cover from rain.

How to get the best results

Whatever your choice of composting methods, the ingredients for your compost pile need to be the right mix for the best results.

super simple composting
Put together simple bins from wire mesh or boards to contain your compost.

Combine fresh ‘green’ nitrogen rich materials and ‘brown’ dried carbon rich materials.  The green materials include grass clippings, kitchen scraps, garden waste and even weeds that have not gone to seed.
Brown materials are generally tougher dry materials like dried leaves and grass, sawdust, straw, shredded newspaper and even chopped up stalks of corn or other dry stalks.

Now that you have the ingredients, add a couple of shovelfuls of garden soil, manure, or partly decomposed compost to introduce the microorganisms and worms that do the work. It will start ‘working’ without the soil, but that will start the decomposition more quickly.

With these super simple composting methods, and balanced amounts of the two types of materials, you will soon have your own rich black compost to enrich your garden soil.

About the Author

Nicki is a dedicated gardener, a creative artist and a published author. Passionate about what she does, her gardening articles, books and paintings reveal her love of nature and the western Canadian scene. She loves sharing her container garden success with others to inspire their creativity.

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