Easy Ways to Make Compost for Your Garden
Ready to stop wasting money buying compost and fertilizer for your garden and flower beds? Those egg shells, banana peels and other kitchen scraps that you throw away can become nutrient-rich material for growing flowers and plants.
Don’t Forget Yard Trimmings
While the most popular source for composting comes from kitchen scraps, don’t limit yourself to that. Those leaves and grass clippings, pulled plants, small sticks and even weeds (without seeds, so they don’t sprout in your compost) removed from your yard can become rich compost as well. Also think wood chips, sawdust, corn stalks and husks, dead flowers and shredded newspapers.
Worms: A Gardener’s Friend
A great way to teach kids about gardening, consider vermicomposting, or composting with worms. Simply make some holes for air and drainage in a box or bin and add some red wiggler worms (sold at bait shops and online). The worms will eat food scraps you add to the bin and excrete castings you can use to add to your soil and fertilize your plants.
Making ‘Leaf Mold’
Instead of bagging your fallen leaves, dump them into a wire bin instead and let them decompose naturally. Once the leaves settle, pack even more in! The end result is a compost called ‘leaf mold,’ and though it’s not as nutrient-rich as regular compost, it’s still a valuable addition to your garden soil.
Use Multiple Bins
Serious composters need multiple bins to work with. Whether you buy them or make them is up to you, but aim for at least two bins so you can move decomposing materials from one to the other. This “stirring” action allows more air to reach the materials so they break down faster. Hint: If you make your bins, use wire on one side to allow air to circulate around your materials and add a lid to keep animals out.
Consider a Compost Tumbler
Similarly, compost tumblers also help air to circulate around your decomposing materials. Plus, it may be easier to tumble them than to stir them with a pitchfork or shovel. There are ready-made tumblers on the market, or you can make your own from an old barrel.
Convert a Trash Can
A backyard composter doesn’t have to be expensive — you can use an ordinary plastic or metal garbage can with a lid. Drill some holes into the sides and bottom, and then sink the can into the ground to keep animals from getting into your garbage. The holes allow water to drain out and worms and other beneficial organisms to come in. When the compost is ready to use, simply lift the can out of the ground and spread it where you need it!
Collect Scraps in Your Kitchen
A bucket or pail with a lid makes a handy kitchen compost bin to save your food scraps so that you don’t have to make a special trip outside every time you have scraps. Tuck your kitchen collector inside a cabinet or pantry if countertop space is tight. If you find odor is a problem, consider emptying the bucket into your outdoor bins more often, or finding a collector with a built-in carbon filtration system.
Compost in a Hole or Trench
Due to various reasons, some gardeners can’t have compost piles. Another option is burying your food scraps and yard trimmings directly in your garden spot. Simply dig a hole 12-24” deep or a trench about 18” deep. Fill the hole with your scraps and top it off with a generous layer of garden soil. Over time those buried materials will decompose, enriching the soil from underneath.