Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dreaming of Compost By Joyce D’Agostino

Since keeping our garden soils healthy and amended is always recommended, I had on my wish list a composter. Previously I had done some minor composting of things like fall leaves which worked well but I needed to advance to a better system to produce good quality compost.
Composter photo by Joyce D'Agostino
I was lucky to have recently acquired a tumbler composter from someone who was moving. I have already started adding some good quality kitchen and canning scraps to the composter and giving it a daily turn. It was time for me to get serious about composting since my busy schedule prevented me from amending my soil as well as it should have been and I could see a marked difference between the beds with amendment and the ones that did not receive a good dose of fresh soil and compost.
Composting is not difficult, but there are guidelines for what can and cannot be added to your compost. Often you hear you can add  “kitchen scraps” but not all kitchen waste can do into your compost pile. For example, you cannot add things like meat scraps, bones, etc. Not only do these not break down properly they can attract wildlife to your pile or composter. Also, if you had any plants that had diseases, these should be discarded with your trash and not added to the composter. The reason is that some composters do not get to a high enough temperature to destroy the pathogens and this could result in the compost becoming infected with these diseases and spread the following year if used.
Much of our front range soils are packed clay, so adding compost to the soil not only enriches it with great nutrients, but also helps keep the soil quality high to allow the right balance of oxygen and water.

The following bulletins are provided at no cost by CSU and give excellent guidance on how to make compost and what should and should not be added. Take some time to print these out and read them so you have the complete information to successfully compost. If you follow these guidelines and keep your compost turned regularly, by spring you will be rewarded with “black gold” and your plants will love it.