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A Beginner's Guide to Composting

By Bambi Edlund | June 17, 2016
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There s no better way to fortify your garden while reducing your contribution to landfills, but starting a compost pile can feel a little daunting. Just remember to follow this simple equation:


Nitrogen-rich items make up the "greens" part of your pile.

• fruit peels, seeds and cores
• vegetable peels and seeds
• green leaves
• grass clippings

Items that produce carbon are called "browns," and should make up the bulk of your pile (aim for three parts brown to one part green).

• twigs and branches
• dry leaves
• sawdust
• hay or straw
• mulch or wood chips
• old topsoil
• animal manure (from vegetarian animals ONLY– no cat or dog feces)

Use a pitchfork or shovel to turn the pile once a week or so, to aerate and help distribute moisture content. Gaps between the boards also help oxygen circulate.

START WITH A THICK BASE LAYER of brown material, including sticks, twigs, wood chips, hay or straw to promote air circulation. Then alternate layers of greens and browns, making sure to always have a layer of browns on top, to balance the moisture. Add water as needed to keep the pile damp but not wet–the moisture content should be like a wrung-out dishrag. Too dry? Add some water or greens. Too wet? Add more browns.

HARVESTI The compost is ready to use after 2-3 months. Once the pile is ready you can also add worms to speed the process up.

Items that should not be added to your compost pile include:

● ashes (affects pH balance of the soil)
● meat (causes odor, attracts pests)
● fish and fish bones
● whole eggs (egg shells are okay)
● animal fats or other oily products
● dairy products
● cat litter
● dog or cat feces

TIGHT ON SPACE? A smaller compost pile can be successful with the addition of red wiggler worms. Fill a box 8-16"deep with layers of soil, newspaper and leaves. Place the worms on top with a layer of fruit and vegetable waste. Be sure to make holes in the bottom of the box to allow for ventilation and drainage.

Article from Edible Cape Cod at http://ediblecapecod.ediblecommunities.com/things-do/beginners-guide-composting-0
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