Turn a shovel of Kansas soil and you can find anything from red clay to sand. But there’s an easy way to enrich that soil and help your garden and landscape plants grow. Compost.
Compost is a useful form of dark, crumbly, decomposed organic material such as fallen leaves, grass clippings and vegetable scraps. Many of the minerals found in compost are valuable plant nutrients that enrich the soil and promote plant growth.
Composting can save time and money. It’s faster than bagging grass and hauling trash and cheaper than buying chemical fertilizer. It will help your garden grow. And it’ll make you feel good to help the environment.
Like fine wine, robust cheese and some people, compost can improve with age. However, the stability of the compost depends on the rate of decomposition; that, in turn, depends on a variety of factors, including nutrient balance, mixing, moisture and aeration. Holding bins will produce compost in 6 months to 2 years. Turning bins creates usable compost in a shorter period of time.
If you don’t have an outdoor garden, you can still use compost, mixing it with potting soil to strengthen houseplants and planter box gardens. And, even if you aren’t able to start a compost pile of your own, you can support the environment by using compost instead of chemical fertilizers. Your purchase helps stimulate the market and promote recycling and resource recovery.
Clear water. Clear skies. Composting is a simple way to improve the environment.
By creating a healthier soil ecosystem, compost does more than help your garden grow. It enhances the soil food chain and supports wildlife that depends on that food chain for sustenance.
Simple. Stop bagging your grass. Stop hauling loads of leaves to the curb. Instead, build or buy a compost bin for your backyard and dump yard waste in the bin.
The compost area should be level, out-of-the-way and accessible. Your bin should be big enough to hold a pile 3 to 5 feet across and 3 to 5 feet high. Make sure you chop or shred coarse or stringy materials. Alternate brown and green materials. Moisten each layer with water, leaving a slight depression in the middle. Place kitchen scraps deep within the pile to avoid attracting animals and flies. Turn the material periodically.
A compost pile with a proper carbon to nitrogen ratio will burn your hand — about 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s a great alternative for commercial mulch. Instead of buying wood chips or other mulches, you can spread compost over the soil. Like any good mulch, it will conserve water, reduce weeds and keep soil temperatures from becoming too hot or too cold.
No problem. Compost has an earthy smell, not a bad odor. If your compost pile smells bad, it’s a sign the compost isn’t getting enough air. Turn it over.