Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring Fever | It's Compost, Not Dirt!

Hey Y'all!!

I hope this post finds you doing well. Spring time is approaching and I felt it would be right on time to post "It's Compost, Not Dirt" from April, 2009 again. Here ya go.......

I was complaining a few days ago about all the rain we've had and now I want it back! It's the pollen that's gonna do me in now! Ugh!!!

I was trying to figure out what to write and then it hit me! I consider my dad to be an expert on a plethora of subjects but especially in the ways of compost. I just love the word plethora and how it rolls off the tongue!

Any who, when he's not in the yard, he's in the yard. Unfortunately, I did not inherit his green thumb but I did inherit his work ethic. Since he is so good at churning out what I call dirt or black gold, (he's quick to remind me, "It's compost, not dirt"), I thought it would be a neat post! The following is how to start and maintain a compost pile from the resident "compost" maker in the dad! The picture below is of a new pile.

Choose an area where nothing is growing and is out the way. Place a square of black plastic on the ground and begin by placing ground up leaves and grass clippings. Add kitchen scraps from all fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds and tea bags to the mix.

Choose a sunny location so the sun can help break down the pile. Adding cheap regular beer and cheap cola help the process along due to the yeast and sugar in the products. Grass clipping have a natural nitrogen content so adding fertilizer to the pile is not necessary.

Turn the pile with a pitchfork without puncturing the black plastic on the ground. If you puncture the black plastic, the "tea" formed in the break-down process will leak out the bottom and encourage invasive roots to sneak in for the great meal. Turning the pile allows oxygen to reach all parts of the pile to facilitate the breakdown process. It is also important not to let the pile dry out so you must spray it with water to keep it moist.

Normal decomposition occurs within six weeks, however, the larger the pile the longer it will take as you continue to add to the pile. Generally, it is better to work on a compost pile this year for next years planting, giving the pile sufficient time to cook and destroy unwanted seeds from growing.

A normal indication the pile is finished cooking is when you no longer feel the heat from the pile when working the pile. Covering the pile with black plastic will intensify the cooking process because of heat retention. Some folks add "dirt" from the local outdoors place to weigh the pile down. It is not necessary. Everyone develops their own style once they see the benefits of composting.

So, there ya have it. I've got 3 piles that need major work and I'm hoping my dad will put his magic touch on them the next time he visits. I know what you're thinking but my dad isn't a 'sit still' kind of person. He'd rather be turning a pile, whether at my house or his! Woo-hoo for me!!

Last year while turning one of my piles, I uncovered something that scared me to first. I had worms that were approximately 1/2" in diameter and 7" long. The first time I laid eyes on them I thought they were baby snakes. I dropped my pitchfork, did my best 'snake holler' and ran from the pile. Luckily my dad was standing there and informed me they were not baby snakes, just really big worms...whew! Worms are great for compost piles!!

Thanks for stopping by y'all and have a fantabulous day! "He who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love."

Creator Extraordinaire
Cactus & Ivy
blog comments powered by Disqus