By Melissa Wynn

compost bins

Going green is all about ‘re-use’ and ‘recycle’. And where is green more appropriate than in the garden. Composting is a great way to recycle your organic waste and return the nutrients to the earth. There are several composting devices on the market to choose from or you can simply make your own compost bin or compost pile. The concept is simple, hurry mother nature along in the decomposition process to create your own rich soil for your garden and houseplants. Once you have a chosen device, bin or pile, you are ready to begin. Choose a sheltered and lightly shaded area for your composting to protect against excessive moisture. Next, build your first layer of coarse brown vegetable matter, such as straw or dried leaves and pine needles. Green organics, such as grass clippings and kitchen scraps, will make up your second layer. Layer number three should be a thin layer of regular soil and a touch of regular garden fertilizer. The soil brings crucial microorganisms to the mix and the fertilizer gives your compost a good kick of essential  nitrogen. Last but not least, comes a fourth thin layer of manure, bone meal, blood meal or plain ol’ dry dogfood.  A covering of straw or burlap will help insulate the pile, but still allow good air flow. Layers should be piled loosely for good airflow. Dry  ingredients should be moistened with a garden hose and your compost heap should maintain the consistency of a well wrung sponge. Turning your compost pile regularly with a shovel will help speed the process along. If your compost pile begins to smell, you need to turn it more often to keep it breathing. If it seems to be too compact, add more coarse material to keep it loose.  Little by little, your pile of waste materials will break down and become the dark rich soil so beneficial to the garden. Your garden will be healthier and you will feel good about the organics you reused and recycled instead of sending it all to your local land fill.

basic facts courtesy of and