COMPOSTING

Compost is a gardener’s recipe for turning plant materials into renewing nutrients for the soil.  This recipe requires six ingredients; raw materials, sun, water, heat, time and and you,  a gardener caring about the earth.  

 

Why compost?  If you can add an inch or two of compost or manure to your garden each year you probably will have all the fertilizer that you need.  Your plants will be healthier and more resistant to pests and disease.

 

Where to compost?  It is possible to compost right in your garden but it takes a bit of space. Community bins have been built so that we can all take advantage of composting right here in the garden.

 

The City supplies compost bins for weeds, seeds, and any organic matter that should NOT go into the SSCG compost bins.  These compost bins look like City trash cans, are green, and are marked on the lid with “compost only”.  The compost bins live near the pergola on the west side and near the SSCG compost bins on the east side.

 

When to compost?  Composting is an ongoing process.  Any time you have organic green or brown plant material, chop it upand add it to the compost pile. Occasionally please add in a shovel or two or your garden soil to the compost.

 

What to compost?  disease free materials without synthetic herbicides or pesticides

 

GREEN MATERIALS

  • Vegetables

  • Fruits 

  • Flowers

  • Fresh leaves

  • Grass clippings

  • Tea leaves/coffee grounds

BROWN MATERIALS

  • Autumn leaves

  • Straw

  • Aged manure

  • Soil

  • Mulch

  • Egg shells

 

DO NOT COMPOST THE FOLLOWING:

  • Anything containing meat, oil, fat, or grease

  • Dairy products

  • Oil

  • Plastic

  • Treated wood

  • Metal

  • Pet waste

  • Grass roots

  • Diseased plant materials

  • Sawdust or chips from pressure-treated wood

  • Weeds that go to seed

Weeds (any plant in the seed phase is considered a weed), seeds, and other organic material should go in the City compost bins.  The City compost bins are green and are marked with “compost only” on the lid.  

 

How to compost?  Chop any of the above ingredients into pieces no larger than 3 inches and MIX them into the active compost bin, moisten until it feels like a damp/wrung out sponge, turn occasionally to add air and naturally occurring microbes and bacteria will do the rest.  

Please CHOP any materials you are adding to the bins.  If you are unwilling to chop it up, it should go into the City compost bins although some chopping may be required to get materials into the City compost bins.  Un-chopped materials add to the time it takes for composting to work and makes turning the pile difficult, if not impossible.

Composting is one of the most important aspects of amending your garden soil.   It is of utmost importance to do this correctly so it can break down to provide necessary nutrients  & microbes for growing fruits & vegetables.

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Hot Composting

Hot composting is for the more serious gardener but a faster process—you'll get compost in one to three months during warm weather. Four ingredients are required for fast-cooking hot compost: nitrogen, carbon, air, and water. Together, these items feed microorganisms, which speed up the process of decay.

Composting is a great way to use the things in your refrigerator that you didn't get to, therefore eliminating waste. Keep a container in your kitchen, such as a tin bucket or crock, to accumulate your composting materials. Collect these materials:

  • Fruit scraps

  • Vegetable scraps

  • Coffee grounds

  • Eggshells

  • Grass and plant clippings

  • Dry leaves

  • Shredded newspaper

  • Straw

Step 1: Combine Green and Brown Materials

To make your own hot-compost heap, wait until you have enough materials to make a pile at least 3 feet deep. You are going to want to combine your wet, green items with your dry, brown items. Start building your organic compost pile, alternating brown and green items. If your compost pile looks too wet and smells, add more brown items. If you see it looks extremely brown and dry, add green items and water to make it slightly moist.

 

Step 2: Water Your Pile

Sprinkle water over the pile regularly so it has the consistency of a damp sponge. Don't add too much water, otherwise the microorganisms in your pile will become waterlogged and drown. If this happens, your pile will rot instead of compost. Monitor the temperature of your pile with a thermometer to be sure the materials are properly decomposing. Or, simply reach into the middle of pile with your hand. Your compost pile should feel warm.

 

Step 3: Stir Up Your Pile

During the growing season, you should provide the pile with oxygen by turning it once a week with a garden fork. The best time to turn the compost is when the center of the pile feels warm or when a thermometer reads between 130 and 150 degrees F. Stirring up the pile will help it cook faster and prevents material from becoming matted down and developing an odor. At this point, the layers have served their purpose of creating equal amounts of green and brown materials throughout the pile, so stir thoroughly.

Step 4: Feed Your Garden

When the compost no longer gives off heat and becomes dry, brown, and crumbly, it's fully cooked and ready to feed to the garden. Add about 4 to 6 inches of compost to your flower beds and into your pots at the beginning of each planting season.

Some gardeners make what's known as compost tea with some of their finished compost. This involves allowing fully formed compost to "steep" in water for several days, then straining it to use as a homemade liquid fertilizer.


 

With just a few kitchen scraps and some patience, you'll have the happiest garden you can have.

SSCG would like to thank gardeners past and present for their contribution to this website.   

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