When you are starting life on the homestead, you quickly learn that common food and yard scraps that most people throw away can be very beneficial.
That is certainly true with composting. If you don’t know how to compost, it’s not difficult and we can guarantee it will be well worth your time and energy.
What are the benefits?
First, you are reducing waste. Estimates say that common food and yard waste make up anywhere between 25 and 50 percent of what people throw away. That means we’re using energy and fuel to transport this waste to a landfill, potentially releasing methane gas. When we don’t have to.
But it will also help your homestead. Applying compost to your soil will make your vegetables and trees very happy and help them grow. It is free fertilizer. Now, you can purchase compost from any big box retailer or nursery, but this is free. And when you have a large garden, it certainly adds up.
If you’re sold on composting but don’t know where to begin, read on.
1. Choose the right location
The location won’t necessarily make or break your compost, but there a couple points to consider to make this easier for you. One, choose a location relatively close to the house. We don’t mean one step from the back door, but when you will be taking regular trips from the house to the compost, I like to make life easier on myself.
The amount of sun won’t necessarily help or hurt your compost, but sun increases the temperature and can cause your pile to dry out. You can remedy that by watering more frequently, but it’d be easier to just choose a different location. We recommend partial shade.
2. Know what goes in a compost
As we have said, most food scraps and yard waste can go in your compost. The eligible items are generally broken down into brown material and green material. And you can probably guess what that includes.
The most common “browns” include dead leaves, pine needles, straw, hay, twigs or bark, sawdust, wood chips and pine cones. With the browns, make sure you chop them up as they tend to break down pretty slowly.
The most common “greens” include grass clippings, fresh leaves, fruits and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, melon rinds and even Christmas greenery.
Your post can be layered, one-row green, one-row brown, or mixed, where the browns and the greens are mixed together. And we recommend an equal amount of browns and greens.
3. It’s easy to build
You can purchase a pre-made compost bin from a big-box retailer or Amazon. This will be the quickest and easiest way to begin.
But if you want to save money, this is something you can do yourself in little time. You generally want a wood frame and wood or wire sides. If you’re looking for free materials, four pallets and some type of twine or wire will do the trick.
4. Maintaining your compost
Use a shovel or pitchfork to regularly turn your compost and mix the layers. A way that people ensure they’ve reached the entire pile is to move it into a new bin. You should turn your compost about once a month. Some do it more frequently, some less. But that is a good average number.
You also need to make sure the compost is kept moist, especially in the dry summer months. We recommended a shadier area so you don’t have to water as much, but you will still need to water in most climates.
5. Using your compost
Now that you’ve put this work into your compost, it’s time to make it work for you. If you have kept a regular schedule of turning the compost, your compost will probably be ready in three or four months depending on your climate and the time of year.
Once your compost is ready, you can now add it to the soil of your vegetable gardens, trees or other plants and shrubbery. Just how much compost you should add will depend on your soil, but we generally recommend adding about one to two inches to the soil.
If you follow these easy and practical steps, you will be composting in no time. And you will be happy you did.
If you want even more in-depth prepping and homesteading information then please check out my best selling 176-page book “How To Survive The End Of The World As We Know It – Gear, Skills, and Related Know-How. It’s available in paperback and well as Amazon Kindle.
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