Is anyone else trudging out to their compost bin this winter? Luckily in North Carolina we have nice mild weather this time of year, but it still gets a tad chilly at times and I notice those are the days my inside ‘garbage’ bowl gets pretty heaping full before I make it outside. [I do recommend an indoor kitchen compost if you aren’t making daily trips out to your outdoor compost because of the threat of fruit flies.]
If you’re not familiar with composting … Compost is decayed organic material that you can use as plant fertilizer. Composting speeds up the natural process of decomposition, providing the best conditions so organic matter can break down quickly. If you are gardening now, regardless if it’s raised beds or straight out of the earth, you should start composting! You can buy bagged compost but the best source is homemade. Through composting you enhance your garden’s ability to grow healthy plants while reducing your volume of trash.
Four things are needed to achieve good composting: adequate organic matter, adequate aeration, adequate moisture, and a proper ratio of carbon to nitrogen.
You can have a compost in several different ‘containers’ and in big or small yards. I have chosen to use a Suncast Tumbling Composter for ease of mixing and to keep unwanted pest and animals out of our yard. My composter holds 6.5 cubic feet of compost and has proven to turn organic matter into compost quicker than stationary composters. Since I started my compost so close to planting season I liked the idea of it being ready in time for spring.
Winter and cold temperatures can slow down or sometimes stop the composting process. Having your compost in direct sunlight and contained will help it retain heat and continue to do it’s job. Luckily compost bacteria isn’t picky and as long as it has waste to eat it will create it’s own heat source, following just simple precautions will help the bacteria thrive.
Organic material to add to your compost includes:
- vegetable scraps
- alfalfa hay
- cow manure
- corn stalks
- grass clippings
- coffee grounds
- poultry manure
Don’t let the cold winter months stop you from starting your compost now! With continued addition of organic material and mixing you can have a great compost pile to feed your plants with this spring.