Friday, June 17, 2011


The holy grail of gardening—a large supply of homemade compost. Earthworms love it. Plants love it. It must be great, right? Right!

Composting is simply adding layers of different natural materials on top of each other. Eventually they will decay and form dirt, really good dirt. The layers of material are either considered ‘greens’ or ‘browns’. They are differentiated not by color but by the nitrogen and carbon content. Learn more here.

Greens include such things as grass clippings, food scraps and weeds that have not yet gone to seed. Browns include leaves that have fallen from a tree, sawdust and straw. Here's a good link to learn more about green and browns.
There are two methods of compost you'll hear about—hot composting and cold composting. Hot composting is about having the contents of your compost pile correct so it will actually heat up—up to about 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot composting is known to kill pathogens and weed seeds. However, hot composting requires your regular—perhaps daily—time and attention to ensure all the proportions of green to brown ratios, to turn the compost over, to monitor moisture level and to ensure other contents are maintained. The advantages to hot composting are that it decays faster and pathogens and weed seeds are killed. The disadvantage is that it can take a considerable amount of time to monitor the compost piles’ conditions. As an aside, some people are experimenting with running hoses through a hot compost to heat their water.

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