If you’re a gardener, you already know compost is your best friend. Not only does it add nutrients to depleted soils, but it increases the bulk of the soil so it absorbs and retains moisture. Recently my dad experimented with his green bean crop by adding compost to only half of the row. The composted plants grew faster and yielded more beans than the ones grown in plain soil. The difference was so noticeable that it was almost scary!
I love composting because I don’t have to feel guilty about throwing out unused vegetables. Instead of wasting them in a landfill, they get recycled and put to good use. Along the way I’ve learned a few things. Here are my tips for managing compost.
Finding the Best Compost Bin
Tumblers are the best, but they’re expensive, and you don’t really need them to compost effectively. Because they make it easy to turn the compost pile often, they work the fastest. This is a big advantage for busy gardeners with day jobs. For people who live in a suburb or city, turning the garbage into compost as quickly as possible helps keep your property neat and clean. Out in the country, a basic plastic bin with a locking lid is an economical option that makes great compost, or you can even make your own homemade bin.
Turning the Pile
Compost has to be turned so it gets plenty of air and decays quickly. I don’t use a tumbler, so I solved this problem by buying two bins. Bin #1 holds compost that’s in an advanced state of decay and doesn’t need turning often. Bin #2 holds my fresh compost and gets turned twice a week. I always start a new batch when the bin is 1/3 full. This keeps the pile loose and easy for me to turn with a short-handled hoe or garden fork.
Managing Pests and Odors
A good compost bin will have a tight-fitting lid and no gaps to discourage animals from trying to get in. The key to keeping flies and other insects from breeding in the pile is to keep the decay process active. Be sure to put the bins in a sunny spot and keep the contents moist so they rot quickly. Although my bins don’t have much odor, I move them farther away from the house in the summer months.