Greetings from the Garden
By Kim Elia
Let’s talk about composting. We all know Payson soil is not optimal. Composting turns your kitchen scraps into a valuable soil building substance, which can make your garden thrive. It can be used in planting holes, spread around plants, made into a tea to feed the roots directly. It can also be used, along with coconut coir and perlite, as a seed starting soil.
Compost should be made of both brown and green waste. There are differing opinions about the ratio, but 4 brown to 1 green is generally a good bet.
Brown waste is dry leaves, straw, shredded newspaper and cardboard, which provide carbon.
Green waste is fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, green leaves, composted manure, eggshells, all providing nitrogen. The scraps should be chopped up to help speed the breakdown. The larger the pieces, the longer it’s going to take.
Compost needs to be turned regularly. In the summer, about every two weeks, it needs to heat up, cool down and then turned. Turning in the winter is not recommended, as it will cause a loss of any heat in the pile.
It should be in a shady spot to keep it from drying out. Like the soil your plants are growing in, it needs to be moist, not too dry or too wet.
Compost no no’s are meat, dairy, oil. No briquette ash or pieces, they may contain chemicals that can kill earthworms. Composting spent nightshade plants is not a great idea. They are prone to diseases and can infect the pile. Human waste is a big fat double NO!
One last thing, un-composted scraps will work against building the soil by stealing nitrogen to complete decomposition.