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How to Make Compost: the Lazy Composter’s Guide

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How to make compost

Want to learn how to make compost but prefer the lazy way?

The way that you don’t do it yourself?

How to Make Compost

Ok so I need to admit something to you.

I’m lazy at composting.

After a decade of  gardening, you’d think I would have mastered it by now but

I’m a tad lazy with the composting balance.

I still toss kitchen veggie/fruit scraps into a pile, sometimes some chicken bedding, sometimes I stir the pile. Sometimes I add some old tp rolls and shredded cardboard to the mix. I always have too much green and not enough brown. Other times I’ll add all the chicken bedding into the compost then not have enough greens. I wish I could say we have an abundance of leaves for brown matter but we live in an evergreen forest. Oh yes and watering and turning the pile? Making sure it’s in the sun for warmth.?Forget about it!

More often than not, I’ve learned to use my half-assed ‘compost’ for new garden beds which looks more like composting scraps than beautiful black gold.

I know it’s so great for the soil but yet I’ve yet to make enough effort to get better at it.

Part of the reason *ahem* excuse is that we get 6 months of colder temperatures here living in Canada and it’s too cold for the compost pile. My other reason has been bears. Every night we get bears except when they hibernate. I still toss lots of veggie scraps into the ‘compost pile’.

Now that we’re moving from the mountains to the valley where less bears are present, I’m determined to get my composting act in gear.

But guess what?

I’m still pretty lazy *ahem* busy with the kids/baby/life and I don’t want to do all the work myself.


Source: Fix.com Blog

What is Compost?

Compost is organic matter essential for your soil’s health which in turns produces healthier and larger vegetables. Creating a good compost requires the right balance between green and brown matter, as well as the ideal conditions to get a good carbon to nitrogen ratio. Composting also reduces your trash!

Compost consists of: Green Matter (wet), Brown Matter (dry) Air & water.

Green Matter includes animal bedding, coffee grounds, cover crops & garden weeds (that haven’t gone to seed), crop  residue (tomato vines etc), grass clippings, juice pulp, kitchen scraps, manure, seaweed, tea bags. A good compost ratio is 1/3 kitchen craps, 1/3 brown matter and 1/3 other green matter.
Brown matter includes cardboard, dried leaves, newspaper, office paper, sawdust (avoiding plywood or treated wood), spoiled hay, straw, wood shavings, wood chips.

Vegetable Gardening: Composting InfographicInfographic from Global News

How to Compost the Lazy Easy Way

Now that you know what compost is, allow me to introduce ways for you to have amazing compost without actually doing the work yourself:

  • Worms with Vermicomposting
  • Chickens to scratch up and compost for you

Even though you still need to add the greens & the browns, chickens and worms can do all the work of turning the compost pile (the most tedious part in my opinion), They also keep the compost pile warmer on cooler days.

Worms: Vermicomposting

Worms are amazing!

Worms feed on the bacteria along with the leftovers. In doing so, they accelerate the process of digestion in two ways. First, as matter passes through their digestive system, it gets physically broken down, which provides the bacteria more surface area to act on. Second, worm guts add more bacteria and enzymes to the mix, which helps speed up the chemical reactions required to produce compost. The end products of worm digestion are castings: nutrient-rich additions to your indoor or outdoor soils. Learn more from Fix.


Source: Fix.com Blog

Chickens

Tips for safely free ranging your chickens

One of my favorite aspects of homesteading has been keeping chickens.

While I struggle to remember to toss the compost pile, the chickens will happily scratch and turn it for me. They’ll turn your green and brown matter into smaller pieces making it decompose faster. They will eat lots of it but they’ll poop it out offering you chicken manure (just make sure it’s decomposed before using it as chicken manure is too ‘hot’ for the garden). They also offer eggs or meat. Bonus bonus!

More on using chickens for composting:

Conclusion

I strongly feel that because I’m not great at composting (yet! I still have some ambition) using worms and chickens to do the work for me is the best method for our composting/garden system.

There are also some indoor composters like the Bokashi (affiliate link) but they always seem too small for the amount of compost our large family goes though in a week (has anyone tried them?).

Have you mastered composting? 

Do you suck at composting? Learn how to make amazing compost without doing it yourself!

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Comments

  1. I am afraid I am worse than even you… I build the pile with approved materials over the summer, then just let is sit till spring. If the top layer is not done by then it becomes the base for the next springs pile. Not approved, I suppose, but it does eventually turn into black gold for my garden. ‘-)

    • I’ve still found that piles of scraps/compost ingredients is good to put in the garden. Soil microorganisms need matter to eat & decompose, it just might not be decomposed enough for the plants that season but it’s still great for building soil long term.

      Some composting effort is better than none, right? 🙂

  2. My garden has all sorts of neat composting experiments going. I just finished digging up my potatoes. I had a waist high stack of their foliage plus all the ground cover underneath them like chickweed, grass, dandelions, other ‘weeds’. I dug a 3 x 3 ft hole where the spuds were, maybe a foot deep. Piled the foliage on the bottom of the hole, then on top of the green stuff, I threw some half rotted sticks found around the rest of the garden, that were used for staking, and a few larger pieces of wood I found in the forest. Covered it all up with the soil that was dug up. And then planted a crop of peas to harvest in the early fall. Kind of a funky version of permaculture, I suppose. I have been doing this for awhile now, and the soil is very fertile. All the best, your website is helpful, and I purchased your “Planning and Designing your Family Food Garden E-book and it is chalk full of great ideas, Isis.

    • Thank you so much Terri 🙂
      Your potato growing intrigued me! I love it when gardeners grow outside the norm and experiment. Wishing you wonderful future harvests

  3. Here’s what I did to make two bins of one cubic yard each. For each bin:

    4 squares made out of 3′ 1x6s. That’s four 12′ boards, cut up for you by your lumber yard. Cover them with chicken wire or hardware cloth or whatever you have around the house. This is not laboratory grade stuff.

    Put two of them together and attach with two exterior grade hinges. Do the same with the other two. Now you have two 3′ x 6′ rectangles hinged in their middles.

    Add some hook-and-eye fasteners to hold them into a square shape. Fill them with your compostables and wait. It’ll take a while but by the time the second one is full, the first one should be ready.

    I think I’ll make a couple more for leaves and other yard crud!

  4. I admit I also am not the best at composting. I have been playing with a bin I built a few years back. BTW, skip the lumber yard. I built mine myself out of four palates. I know a place I can get them for free. Screwed them together to make a box, placed the box near the garden and against a fence. Viola! Air for the circulation, just need to turn it now and again. (Think I have turned it three or four times this summer. Ya, not real active on that one either.) I wasn’t covering it, and the pile would go down quite readily. I had heard that you should keep it covered though, so put on a couple of scrap chip boards. Seems to work well, but now it isn’t going down so fast. HHHmmmmm… Anyway, I had to laugh out loud when you mentioned that the pile should be a 30/30/30 mix. Most of mine is grass clippings, I admit, but I also have six or seven trees on the property, and have tons of leaves in the fall. After layering the leaves on the garden, (I have a leaf blower that chews them up pretty good,) the rest goes into the bin. Turning in the winter is out of the question, not tromping back there in the snow. So I will continue with my little experiment. I’ll be watching the rest of you to see how you do too. 😉

    • I feel like some decomposition is better than none, so long as it’s not rotting you’re *sort of* composting. At least that’s the way I think of it!

      Having organic matter for micro-organisms and worms to consume is so important for great soil; and it sounds like you’re doing that right with the leaves and grass clippings even if your compost isn’t perfect 🙂

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Many of the links to products on this site are affiliate links. These are products that I've used or recommend based from homesteading experience. I do make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) from these sales.Family Food Garden is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com
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