May 4, 2010

Composting makes sense. It takes waste and turns it into a valuable soil additive.

Today, you can select electric and mechanical composters in barrel, box, ball and other styles. Some automatically or manually mix the compost, while others are more passive with the materials gradually breaking down.

All promise high-quality compost, easily made. While many, if not most, will do what they say, the reality is that making compost requires nothing more than a pile of organic materials.

A couple of guidelines include a good mix of brown (carbon source) and green (nitrogen source) materials, a way to retain them in a pile and a piece of tarp or section of plywood to protect the pile from excess rainfall.

A length of perforated drain tile is a simple way to maintain airflow through the pile.

You can do all of that and more with materials at hand. Cement block walls laid over a gravel base, hardware cloth framed with 2x4s or used wood pallets stood on end – all make adequate composting structures.

Heavy-duty wire livestock panels bent in a circle and tied, old woven netting or any type of barrier fence attached to a circle of steel posts will do for passive composting. The latter are especially well suited for leaves that can require several years for complete breakdown. For quicker results, use a garden fork to periodically mix the materials.

If you haven’t composted your kitchen scraps, lawn and garden clippings and livestock manure, you’re missing out. Look around your place, and you will likely find the materials you need. Your compost pile needn’t cost much; yet, it will produce a high-value product for years to come.

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