SPRING GARDENING AND COMPOST
Environmental advocates will happily explain the Do's & Don'ts to create quality compost. You don't have to be a dedicated gardener. Simply find a suitable location to place your composter and begin:
* Start with a base layer of brush to provide airflow. When you deposit kitchen organics, include a handful of dry leaves. Wet kitchen 'greens' provide the nitrogen, while dry 'browns' add the carbon. Microbes will thrive in the right balance.
* Food will decompose quicker if chopped into smaller pieces.
* Your compost should be as damp as a wrung-out sponge. Too wet? Add more leaves or ripped up cardboard.
* Turning your compost periodically will increase its heat and organics will decompose quicker, but this is not necessary.
* As the decaying process is much slower during the winter, you could run out of room if your composter is too full by autumn. To start the winter with an empty composter, wiggle it loose from your heap just before the frost. Add leaves and begin again. It may fill to the rim, but as soon as warm weather arrives the volume will quickly decrease. Keep a supply of dry leaves or other browns on hand to add the carbon. Topple the existing heap, add more leaves and cover with a tarp to use in the spring.
* Compost should just have an earthy scent. However, if there is an odor, top with dry leaves and a few shovels of earth.
* You can include bits of rope, string, cooled wood ashes, sawdust from untreated wood, feathers, wool, hair and pet fur. A rule of thumb is: 'if it was once alive, it will decompose.'
* Do not include meats, bones, dairy or oils. These materials do not break down quickly and may cause odors that could encourage animals.
* Citrus fruits and vinegar are best left out of a worm bin, the habitat for red wiggler worms.
* If you add grass clippings, do not add too many at one time.
Compost is more than a soil conditioner; it is a symbol of continuing life. In the 5 book series 'Pee Wee at Castle Compost', the beetles sing their compost song to the tune of the Hokey Pokey:
'You put your wet greens in, You spread your dry browns out, You add a little water and you stir it all about, You invite all your bug friends To have a two-month feast, Then shovel your compost out!'
Designed as an educational tool, the fun and factual illustrated adventure stories not only help teachers explain the benefits of composting, but also engage children and their parents.
Written by:Larraine Roulston, Castle Compost
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