The Lazy Gardener's Guide to Composting
Everything you consume relies on healthy, nutrient-rich soil. Every time something is grown for consumption, by people or by the animals people eat, it sucks nutrients out of the soil. The earth can’t keep giving without getting replenished. Synthetic fertilizers are not a solution, they kill the microorganisms that keep your soil healthy, they can leach into waterways and create pollution, and they can ruin the balance of the soil long term. Your soil needs to be teeming with microorganisms and organic nutrients in order to do its job. The healthier your soil is, the healthier your plants will be and the better they’ll be at fighting off pests. Composting is a fantastic way to give back to your soil!
What You Can Compost
Greens (high in nitrogen)
- Vegetable & fruit scraps
- Teabags and loose tea
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Egg shells (crushed)
- Green plant trimmings
Browns (high in carbon)
- Dried garden plants or grass clippings (not weeds)
- Shredded, unbleached, unprinted, non-glossy paper products
- Cut up, unprinted cardboard
- Sawdust (not from pressure treated wood)
How to Start
You can basically wing it. Throw a bunch of brown compost material in the bottom of the bin and then start adding kitchen scraps. That's what I've been doing and mine has been pretty happy for the past few years and smells earthy and good. Compost snobs might disagree but I've found that there are very few ways to go wrong. Don't pour oil or like cat poop in it and you should be fine.
Keeping Your Compost Happy
- If you build a bin, make sure there is space between the wood slats - it needs air
- When you water your garden, water your compost
- Add in brown materials often, most of your kitchen scraps will be green
- Throw a scoop of soil in here and there
- Give it a turn every once in a while
You'll be amazed about how much you can put in your compost before you need to empty it. One day you'll go out and give it a good turn and realize that the bottom compost is almost like soil and that's when you can start mixing it into your garden. Your plants will thank you!
Don't have a yard? Try worm composting inside!