TELL THE TRUTH: Did you turn your heap before you piled on the fall’s bountiful offerings–before you cleaned up the tomato vines and the hostas, and raked all those precious leaves? Did you extract what was “finished” from down below, or–in a hurry–just cover it all up with incoming goodies? That’s my heap–30-plus feet long and about 6 wide right now and waist-high–and I confess, I was daunted. Next spring’s task will be even more heroic! A review of composting 101, with all your questions answered.
A successful organic garden has its foundation in the compost heap. What to compost (and what to leave out of the compost bin), and how to manage the pile and use the finished compost are all covered here.
DID YOUR IMPATIENS appear yellowed, weak, or even give up and collapse early this summer? (Thankfully, the pot above did not.) If there were any issues, don’t compost the plants’ remains this fall; bag and discard them–root system and all–in the trash. Impatiens downy mildew, a relatively recent but very serious fungus-like disease affecting plants in seven states in 2011, spread in 2012 from Florida up through the mid-Atlantic and all the way to the Northeast. Because the spores can overwinter in the soil even in Northern gardens, proper fall-cleanup sanitation practices are key to avoiding a repeat next year. [read more…]
Q. Do I need to buy a bin to make compost?
Q. What can I put in the compost heap?
Q. What does not go into the compost heap? What materials can I not compost?
Q. Can I put weeds in my compost heap?
Q. What’s the easiest way to compost, without all the turning of the heap?
Q. How often do I turn the pile?
Q. How can I speed up the process? Is shredding a good idea?
Q. Can I use compost as mulch?
Q. What about “green manures” and composting them in place by turning them under?
Q. What about vermicomposting, or composting in worm bins?
Q. Where can I learn more about composting?
A. What method of composting you use should be determined by the volume of material created in the yard (and to a lesser degree, in the kitchen, where vegetable scraps, egg shells and coffee and tea grounds can be collected for the heap, too). I create far too much raw material for a mere bin-type system, the commercially available kind made of metal or heavy plastic or mesh that are about as big as a washing machine. [read more…]
FORUM MEMBER TERRYK IS SO RIGHT TO ASK: Whether or not we can add weeds to our compost heaps without risking weed-filled finished compost is a confusing topic. Won’t all their seeds sprout, or runners survive–especially in a slow-cook, not-so-hot heap? This week, we have the answer in the Urgent Garden Question Forum…thanks to some advice from our English gardening brethren (and a couple of giant plastic bags). Find out how it all works right here.