Roost + Restore
Raise Your Own Food

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. 

ARE YOU ADDING MORE SELF SUSTAINING ELEMENTS TO YOUR HOME? READ MY PERSONAL SUGGESTIONS FOR ADDING NEW CHICKS TO YOUR EXISTING FLOCK. MORE CHICKS=MORE MANURE FOR THAT COMPOST RECIPE!

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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