I am not a good gardener. I think watering takes an obnoxiously long time and in the past I have been unsure exactly how to compost!
Sometimes you overwater plants and end up with cucumbers the length of your arm and width of your thigh (it has happened to me folks). Other times you water them too much and they die from over-hydration. Gardens of flowers and produce can be fussy, but there is one method for enriching your garden that I’m excited to try this summer, composting.
I have thought of compost piles as a mix of garbage and leftovers and have never truly understood what went into them. I dabbled into some research and here is what I’ve found:
- You want to start your compost pile on “bare earth.” That way worms and other organisms will be able to oxygenate the compost.
- Put down twigs for your first layer. It will help with the drainage.
- You want to alternate between moist and dry layers in your compost pile.
- The wet ingredients will be various table scraps such as fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells (crushed), seaweed, tea leaves, coffee grounds or corn cobs. You will attract pests if you try to compost meat, bones or fish scraps.
- The dry layers can include things like shredded paper, wood chips, cardboard, leaves (dry or wet), and grass clippings.
- All compost ready materials are carbon or nitrogen-based. The trick is to balance this ratio and maintain it to build healthy compost. Carbon is generally your dry matter along with coffee filters and eggshells. While nitrogen-containing materials are manures, food scraps, leaves and lawn clippings.
- The healthier compost piles are said to be one-third green (nitrogen) and two-thirds brown materials (carbons).
- Cover, cover, and cover. You need to cover your compost pile to increase moisture and heat.
- Turn it! This is the manual labor section of compost. Wasn’t it already manual labor to fill it? Guess not. The turning of the compost pile has to happen every few weeks using a pitchfork or a shovel.
- Use it! Enrich your flower beds, herbs or fruits and vegetables!
What I like about composting is that it is a presumably simple way to grow rich and healthy gardens. What I really love is the pile of scraps I build while cooking no longer needs to be wasted in the garbage or disposal.
Take Jessica Maher‘s, from Kitchen Belleicious, Pancetta and Corn Griddle Cakes with Red Pepper Onion Jam, for example. If you try out that recipe, which is delicious by the way, you can compost the remainders of the green onions, chives, eggshell, corncob, the onion shavings, and so much more.
Moral of the story? Think of the possibilities your future compost pile could bring you. A garden enriched by materials in almost any recipe you’re making right now! So don’t waste those table scraps, think ahead, and let’s see if we can turn any thumb into a green one.
Kitchen Belleicious is a blog written and maintained by Jessica Maher. Jessica is one of Around the Plate’s Recipe Gurus and is a member of thePlate Community. As a recipe guru, Jessica shares creative dishes and healthy recipes that anyone on a budget can enjoy. Find other nutrition experts, recipe gurus, and healthy eating champions on our community blog network.