Layered Composting For Vegetable Gardens
Layered Composting Is A Bountiful And Free Source Of Organic Matter!
Perhaps you’ve been wondering why so many gardeners do layered composting for vegetable gardens; well the short answer is: It’s the sensible thing to do.
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Compost is a bountiful and free source of organic matter, which vegetables adore and consume like crazy.
Compost adds humus to your garden and acts as a natural, slow-release fertilizer.
Plus, composting lets you feel virtuous and efficient because you’re not sending perfectly used materials away in the household garbage.
Although you can buy compost from a gardening center, a better solution is to make your own.
It’s less expensive even though bag for bag, store-bought compost may not strike you as terribly expensive.
It really starts to add up when you’re caring for a vegetable garden, and it’s easy.
Following is a short course on creating compost for your vegetable garden.
If you need mountains of compost or get really into composting , you can try some more-sophisticated methods.
Pick A Good Spot That’s Level And Sunny
The location should be level and out of the way of foot traffic, but not far from your vegetable garden.
a sunny spot is better than a shady one because warm sunshine helps the pile warm up so the contents break down faster.
Build A Square Or Circular Cage
A 3 by 3 foot cage is the minimum size you need to be effective.
You can buy commercially available bins of tough black plastic with a lid on top and a hatch in the bottom.
Or, you can make your own out of chicken wire, concrete blocks, wooden pallets, lumber, or even piled-up hay bales.
I made my compost bin with a large dog crate that’s collapsible, have top and bottom hatches for inserting and removing material (see image).
Add Material To Your Compost
Adding material to your compost pile is as easy as layering grass clippings; wood bark; kitchen vegetable scraps, egg shells, tea bags; shredded paper; and water if necessary.
A compost pile viewed from the side should resemble a layer cake.
Each layer should be a few inches thick.
Alternate green grass clippings, but not weeds if you can avoid them, and brown leaves, shredded bark layers.
If you’re adding dry material, soak the pile with the hose or a watering can right after adding the material to moisten it.
Check On Your Compost
A good mix heats up on warm summer days, so you may see the pile steaming.
Turn it with a stick, shovel, pitchfork, etc. to keep it working.
Your compost is ready to use when it fails to heat up again after turning.
If your compost pile seems to be breaking down too slowly, you can add these jump start materials in moderation to boost things a bit: Worms, cottonseed meal or manure from grass-fed animals.
If you’re not particular about an “organic” garden, then use blood meal, bone meal and animal manure.
My Do’s And Don’ts
Do include these things:
Tea bags (remove staple)
Chopped up corn cob
Vegetable, fruit peelings and leftovers
Small chipped limbs , branches.
Don’t include these things:
Chunky yard debris
Diseased, insect infested plants;
Weed killer or pesticide debris
Meat, bones, grease, fat
Fruit pits, seeds (attract mice).
Vegetable plants soak up the materials that come out of the compost.
When in doubt as to what should and shouldn’t go into your compost pile for your vegetable garden, follow my general guideline.
If you wouldn’t put it or part of it in your mouth, then don’t put it on your compost pile.
This rule isn’t foolproof, but it can definitely give you peace of mind that your compost pile and vegetables are safe.
Image By Tonza Borden
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