Roost + Restore
Farmhouse Decor

Composting for Beginners

Let me just be up front and say this is my very first time work­ing with com­post. We are new to hav­ing our own home­stead though we are famil­iar with gar­den­ing and liv­ing off the land. Since mov­ing here in Decem­ber we have been slow­ly get­ting things in place as we tran­si­tion into the home­stead lifestyle. Both my hus­band and I enjoy a slow­er paced way of life and want to teach our boys WHERE and HOW we get our food. 


There real­ly isn’t much like grow­ing your own veg­gies and know­ing exact­ly what went into your food when you har­vest it for the table. The most impor­tant part of a gar­den is hav­ing a good healthy soil. With­out get­ting into all the sci­en­cy stuff, because I real­ly don’t under­stand it any­way, your soil needs an appro­pri­ate bal­ance of nutri­ents for plants to grow suc­cess­ful­ly. That’s real­ly ally­ou need to know.

With that being said, in prepra­tion for my raised gar­den beds, my soil needs some atten­tion. This is the first time the ground has been turned in this spot and com­post­ing is a new ven­ture for me. In my research I have found that there are dif­fer­ent meth­ods for achiev­ing a nutri­ent rich com­post but the basics are real­ly the same. 

Com­post is made up of lay­ers of organ­ic mate­ri­als that when decom­posed togeth­er cre­ate a good blend of nitro­gen and car­bon. As the mate­ri­als decom­pose the cen­ter heats up. When this hap­pens it’s time to turn or rotate (if using a tum­bler) so any­thing harm­ful can be exposed to the high temps and killed off. Once the com­post stops heat­ing up it’s con­sid­ered “fin­ished”. A com­plete­ly cured com­post, ready for soil appli­ca­tion, can take any­where from one to three months. Ide­al­ly you would want to cre­ate your com­post in the fall so it is ready for Spring planting.

To start you’re gonna need a place for your mag­i­cal mix­ture. Foe me and my kitchen gar­den I have this tum­bler. I scored this on new in the box at a yard­sale a cou­ple sum­mers ago but you can get the exact same one from Ama­zon. I will LINK IT HERE if you’re interested.

Begin with dry plant mate­r­i­al. Think dry leaves from the fall or even old corn stalks. Then add a lay­er of moist green mate­r­i­al. I have been weed­ing my flower beds and toss­ing them into a buck­et for this lay­er. Sprin­kle in a thin lay­er of gar­den soil before adding the next dry lay­er. It is rec­om­mend­ed that if you are adding manure to add it in with the green lay­er with adds more nitro­gen to the mix. Com­post sci­en­tist (again not me) say the fastest way to pro­duce a good fer­tile com­post is to keep a ratio of 25–30:1.

So what does this all mean and why does it matter? 

Well if you’re like me you don’t real­ly care about all this sci­en­tif­ic jar­gon, I usu­al­ly leave that up to my hus­band. He eats this kind of stuff up. BUT alas! If you want the tasti­est fruits and veg­gies and the pret­ti­est flow­ers, those things don’t hap­pen by acci­dent! If I can learn to do this so can you! 

So in a nut­shell, if your Carbon:Nitrogen lev­els are too high then your decom­po­si­tion will slow down and you’re left with a use­less pile of waste. If the ratio is too low then your com­post will stink to high heav­en and nobody wants that! You want to find that sweet spot. As for us, this is out first go at it! and of course I will be shar­ing updates and keep­ing you post­ed on what (and what not to do)

That is why I am con­stant­ly refer­ring to this process as a jour­ney. I may not know all the things but the fun part is learn­ing how and shar­ing my insights! If you are an expe­ri­enced com­poster please share your thoughts in the com­ments! I would love to know what has worked for you and your soil!


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