Monday, August 17, 2009

August Garden Chores: Composting

Giving is a joy if we do it in the right spirit. It all depends on whether we think of it as "What can I spare? " or as "What can I share? "~Esther Baldwin York

Fall is around the corner, and it's time to start thinking about our yard and garden chores. Today I wanted to go over some composting tips. I know that most of us can't afford fancy tumblers and just want to compost in the simplest manner possible. Late summer is the perfect time to start a compost pile. It can be a loose pile, or you can use cheap fencing or scrap wood and make a 3 sided simple structure with the front open.

During the late summer and fall you will have an abundance of compost materials including leaves, grass clippings, straw, hay, vegetables, annuals and perennials that you've cut back. The key to using all of these materials is keeping the size small and using healthy clippings, nothing diseased. You should also avoid black walnut leaves, eucalyptus, poison oak, poison ivy and sumac.

You don't need an expensive chopper or shredder--use your lawn mower to go over the materials. Spread them on the ground and mow a few times til they are smaller. Do this with leaves and pine needles, plant clippings etc. Grass clippings may get rather ugly if they are placed in deep piles, so spread them out on a sunny day to dry out.

You also want to prepare your household refuse for the compost pile. It's not a big deal once you get used to doing it! Crush the egg shells, and cut up anything big like watermelon rinds into smaller pieces. Throw them in a bucket and add to the compost pile every few days. You can also add shredded or cut-up newspaper (no shiny ads) and cardboard. You don't want to add TOO much of either, but a couple buckets is fine. This also applies to wood ashes from your fire pit or fireplace.

Gardeners who work with their compost a lot will see results MUCH faster-- digging the pile-- making sure it has the correct amounts of materials etc. But, when you have kids, busy schedules, and too much going on it's not so easy. You can STILL have compost, it just takes longer! Start your pile-- get it ready on a nice cool weekend. Prepare everything as mentioned and even if you don't get to mix it up until spring it will eventually become compost!

On OFL we tips on a few fall garden chores you may want to think about:


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