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Composting Basics

Updated: Feb 20, 2022

How to make compost every two weeks, and cheap/free potting soil!

Before you go out and by that premade soil, let me give you the simple steps to making your own compost. With compost you can then make your own cheap and even free potting soil. This is the most cost effective and minimal effort formula that I've used consistently for years. YES, I have gotten amazing results time after time.

Composting is pretty simple. Even better, when you compost you are reducing landfill waste, it cuts down on green house gases, and over all contributes to the health of Earth. Ya know, hug a tree, kiss a bunny.

Using this formula you can effectively make fresh compost about every two weeks. To start, you need to know and understand the chemistry behind composting. You need carbon or brown materials, and you also need nitrogen or green materials. The ratio for this formula is 30:1, 30 parts Carbon, and 1 part Nitrogen.

Lets not make this complicated. The brown materials/carbon are easy to find. Coffee grounds, dead leaves, used hay, or cardboard. The green materials/nitrogen are your fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, dead plant material, . I keep a bin in my kitchen to save all of my non meat and dairy scraps for my compost pile. My absolute favorite scraps for the compost pile are banana peelings and egg shells. They contain key nutrients needed for plant growth and fruit production. Ill go more in depth in a later post.

Select a location in or near your garden. The shorter the distance the better. Makes for a lot less walking. Preferably full sun all day. The hotter your compost is the better/faster it breaks down. You want your pile to be 3ft wide, 3ft long, and 3ft high. Below is a picture of my compost pile. It's nothing fancy by any means.

Once you've selected your location and gathered your carbon and nitrogen materials, start layering them with the 30:1 ration like a cake until you hit your 3ft height. Hose it down with the water hose real well till you see drainage from the bottom. Finally, place some cardboard on top and call it a day.

After about two days, turn your pile multiple times. You'll notice the heat it has created. This means that it is working and the bacteria is decomposing the raw materials. Water your pile if you don't visibly see moisture or if no heat is present. Repeat this process every two days for two weeks. After about a week you'll notice more worm activity which is also beneficial to your compost pile. Once two weeks have past, check your piles temperature. If it has fallen below 100 degrees f it is ready to add to the garden, or make potting soil. Below is a picture of my compost pile after being turned.

To make potting soil easily, you'll need

1 part compost or peat moss ( i like to add both)

1 part top soil

1 part sand or perlite

You already have your compost. Your top soil is very cheap and even free if you know a farmer or don't mind a hole in your yard. Your sand is also very cheap and even free near river or lake beaches. That's all there is to it. Mix these ingredients all at equal parts to make your own rich potting soil. I've also done this in the past to amend rocky and clay soils.

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