April 29 2012
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CREATING A COMPOST HEAP – Fertilizer for a Rich Lawn and Garden

Today’s society more than ever is concerned with being “green”—reusing, recycling, and conserving. The less resources we use the more there will be for future generations. Making a compost heap is a very green thing to do. Rather than buying fertilizers or buying new plants frequently because you haven’t fertilized the plants you have, you can keep your plants and shrubs alive and healthy with rich fertilizer that you made yourself. Remember—fertile soil is the key to growing beautiful plants and rich vegetables.

Some plants and bushes will react more favorably to natural fertilizer than others—ask your garden and landscaping professional about the benefits of compost fertilizer and which of your lawn and garden plants would like it the most. In case you are not familiar with the term, ‘compost’ is natural waste—animal and vegetable material that rots and breaks down. We’re talking about things like vegetable and fruit peels and skin; egg shells; fat trimmed from meats; bones left over from meat; trimmings and pruning from trees and shrubs; dead leaves that you have raked up—basically anything that was living can be added to a compost heap.

By placing these natural waste items into a heap or a bin you speed up the decaying process. You are providing warmth and moisture and this is the favorable environment for compost to become fertilizer. (So the location of your compost heap must allow for moisture and heat to be trapped.  Under the branches of a deciduous tree is ideal because the heap will get both sunlight but also protection.) It is important that you have a mix of items to create good compost. Too much of one item will throw your fertilizer off balance and prevent it from decaying properly. You want to mix in a lot of plant stuff—lawn mowings (grass trimmings) are ideal.  If you do not have enough grass- and leaf-type waste in your compost, the smell will get very strong—you don’t want to annoy your neighbors!

It is also important not only that you have a nice mix of things in your compost heap but that you chop things up into small pieces before adding them to the heap. Throwing a whole branch on there won’t work!  Even things like broccoli stalks should be cut into pieces for optimum compost creation.

Before you start adding all your kitchen scraps and natural waist, you need to put down a bed of three or 4 inches of straw. As you add a layer of trimmings and scraps, you should then sprinkle a layer of soil over top so keep a bag of soil next to your compost heap. Within a few weeks of starting your compost heap you will be able to pull “fertilizer” from the bottom of the heap and sprinkle it around your plants and shrubs or fill into holes places around your plants. With potted plants, add some compost to the soil in the pot. It is fine to use both purchased fertilizer and your own compost on your lawn and garden, as some areas may be too large and you won’t have enough compost. Supplement with fertilizer recommended by your landscaper.

There is no doubt that using compost fertilizer will boost plant health and enrich your soil. And it will stop you from feeling guilty. You know – when you toss out fruits and veggies and other food leftovers that are spoiled and you feel guilty that you didn’t eat them. Well – having a compost heap puts these spoiled items to good use!