Thursday, May 8, 2008

Composting 101

Composting is a great way of reducing the amount of organic materials going into our landfills.
Not only can composting significantly reduce the amount of waste – compost can also be use to amend soil or as a soil conditioner, which returns valuable organic material to the soil.

When we moved from our “hobby farm” on Gabriola years ago, the first thing we did in our new home was to build a composter. With our challenging gardening conditions, we saw the great benefits of being able to add compost to our soil to improving soil structure, aeration & water retention.

Materials that can be composted include;
* Grass clippings (not wet) up to 6 cm deep
* Leaves (chopped to speed their breakdown) up to 15 cm deep
* Plants and weeds (without ripe seeds), shred weeds/trimmings
* Food scraps, fruit scraps, vegetable trimmings (small pieces/uncooked)
* Egg shells (crushed)
* Coffee grounds & filters
* Manure, straw/hay
* Shredded paper

The first step to composting is to decide whether to build a composter or purchase one. Gabriola is in the Regional District of Nanaimo, who has put together a list of local suppliers of composter which can be found online at:

Once you have your composter the next step is to place your composter in a sunny area with good drainage. Make sure that the location is convenient and accessible year round.

Turn soil where composter will be located. After placing composter, cover floor of it with layer of small branches – allowing for air movement and drainage. Alternate wet and dry waste. Adding some finished compost, or garden soil will help speed up the start of the composting process.

Have fun composting!

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