_ Whitefish Bay Garden Club President Mary Beth Mahoney recently presented a program on composting as part of the Garden Club's Community Education Series. Mary Beth got hooked on composing after reading a book by Mike McGraf on composting.
Here are some of the program's highlights:
Four elements are needed for compost: greens (nitrogen-herbaceous plants, fruits and veggies), browns (carbon-trees and shrubs, dried leaves), water, and air.
Use 2 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen
Chop up into small pieces, mix together, maintain a proper balance of greens and browns, and incorporate soil to introduce the necessary micro-organisms. Add water in the spring when the temp is above 50F. Final layer should be about 3” of brown (shredded leaves or paper)
• chop pieces small
• layer with brown on top to avoid fruit flies
• build a 3’ x 3’ x 3‘ minimum size bin.
• turn the contents if ventilation pipes are not incorporated into the design to allow air flow.
• no pet waste, meat, dairy, fish, prepared foods (animal waste from those that are naturally vegetarian only)
• keep adding material once set up is complete
• add weeds, seeds, rhizomes (roots and leaves are great though)
Composting is like assembling a buffet for micro-organisms that break it down and makes the soil amendment. Since different organisms feed at different levels of heat, it is important to not add to it once set up
ULTIMATE NO-TURN COMPOST PILE
put a layer of twigs at the bottom for air circulation, Use PVC or other similar material with large holes drilled into it for air circulation (4-5 standing vertically in the bin). Add water as you build. Let it bake. OK to add materials during the winter, but once temps hit 50F, stop and let it cook.
• Use red wiggle worms
• Use completely opaque container, dark bin
• Rinse the bins thoroughly before using and drill holes in the lid for air circulation
• bedding material- use shredded newspaper or peat moss or coir (shredded coconut shells)
• moisture level should be equivalent to a damp sponge
• use some soil for grit (sand or dirt)
• 1/2C to 1C egg shells for calcium
• hand full of worms
• Feed them veggies, most fruits, egg shells, coffee, tea, finely chopped or crushed food
• Don't feed them onions, garlic, citrus rinds of fruit, meat, dairy, fried foods, or oily sauces
• Bury the food in a pocket or corner of the bin about 3” deep
take the compost from the opposite side of the feeding pocket
as worms reproduce, give them to a friend, usually find them in the feeding pocket
spread 1”-2” of compost on garden beds in spring
spread 1/2” of compost on turf
a Japanese method using fermentation (pickling). Dilute the compost tea from Bokashi 10:1. Bury the waste 12” deep outside
Mary Beth also provided a handout to compliment her presentation. Please find a pdf of that handout below, print, and enjoy! Happy Composting!!!
The Lawn and Garden Tips page is updated by members of the Whitefish Bay Garden Club.