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Pay dirt!

The fall is the perfect time of year to be thinking about the soil in your beds and around your home. Why fill your flowerbeds and vegetable gardens with soils full of chemicals? Why not make your own instead?  Many gardeners are starting to move away from chemical fertilizers and are moving toward ecological choices, such as composting as a way to reduce waste and make the garden greener. 

Composting is a natural way of recycling. The process decomposes and transforms organic material into nutrient rich soil.  A perfectly good compost pile can be built out of nothing fancier than the leaves and grass clippings you are taking off of the lawn right now. Other “ingredients” can include: fruit and vegetable scraps, yard trimmings, paper, wood and organic kitchen waste that are not protein based. 

It usually takes six months to a year to get soil from the composting process. A good way to speed up this process is to regularly mix your compost to allow air into the pile.  Here are three ingredients that always work well in your mix:

  1. Eggshells: As a natural form of calcium, eggshells are perfect in your compost mix. Don’t be worried if they don’t completely break down by the time you spread the soil under your plants. My grandmother has told me that putting eggshells around the hostas helps to prevent slugs because they avoid crawling over sharp edges. I’m not sure I buy this, but she’s been doing it for years and the garden looks great.

  1. Coffee Grounds: Used coffee grounds add acidity to the compost. This acidity is perfect for hydrangeas, which rely on a higher acid level in the soil to produce the blue blooms instead of the pink ones.

  1. Sterilized manure or soil. Now this may sound a little odd to be adding soil to create soil. It’s really the organisms that naturally occur in the soil that you want in your composter. This is even more important if the composter is placed on concrete or has a base preventing your mix from contacting the ground below because the organisms won’t be able to start the decomposition process. Make sure you choose a sterilized version if you are going with manure. Cows and sheep eat grass. Their stomachs don’t breakdown the seeds from the weeds. This means that you are spreading whatever they ate directly on your garden in a ready-to-grow form.

Get started now because this is when the composters are on sale! Perfect timing for you to start turning your fall leaves and kitchen scraps into black gold.


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