The Misfit's Manual to Making the Most of Your Compost

You are probably asking yourself, "What is compost, how can I make the most of it, what should I avoid and why do I care?" All great questions which we, at The Standup Gourmet™ website, will answer.

Let's begin with WHAT IS COMPOST? Compost is decomposed organic matter which can be purchased in bags or made at home with vegetable and fruit scraps, garden and yard waste, etc. and is used for conditioning, reducing pH and adding vital nutrients to your soil.

HOW CAN I MAKE THE MOST OF COMPOST? Following the easy steps below, you can build a household COMPOST BIN.

STEP ONE: Purchase a small, medium or large plastic garbage can or pale with an accompanying cover or lid.

STEP TWO: Drill 6-8 holes in the bottom of the can and drill 3 holes in the top cover or lid. Drilling holes in the bottom of the bin will enable earthworms to aid in the compost process, by crawling in through the bottom of the bin. This is referred to as Vermicomposting.

STEP THREE: Find an out-of-the way, preferably shady area, and place the can over dirt or grass. (Note: If you place the can over your well manicured grass, just be prepared for a crop circle when you move the bin. It will kill the grass underneath.) If it is a small sized can, you may place it directly in the center of your vegetable garden. Make sure that you have easy walking access, because you will hopefully be feeding it often.

STEP FOUR: Pour 1 gallon of dirt, from your garden, into the container. You are done building the base for your compost bin.

STEP FIVE: Add and continue to add (daily or weekly) any of the following ingredients, all of which make for great compost:

  • Used coffee grounds
  • Used coffee filters
  • Egg shells
  • Loose used tea leaves or tea bags (string and staple removed)
  • Fruit rinds or skins
  • Peanut shells (Beware of hungry squirrels)
  • Vegetable scraps, peels or skins
  • Grass cuttings
  • Dry tree leaves
  • Fish tank water
  • Saw dust
  • Shredded newspaper (black & white ink only)



WHAT SHOULD I AVOID?
Avoid adding any meats, meat bones or heavily oiled items, fish or poultry, weeds or diseased plants to your compost bin.

STEP SIX:
When adding new "garbage" to your bin, make sure to turn the compost. The closer the fresh material is to the bottom of the can, the quicker the decomposition. The lid should remain on the bin at all times, except when watering.

STEP SEVEN: Keep the compost bin moist, adding water at least 2x per week. This ensures the presence of earthworms, which will aid in faster decomposition.

STEP EIGHT: When your compost is dark and decomposed, transfer it to your garden, earthworms and all. Work it into the soil, being careful not to harm the worms. Worms do not like direct sunlight and prefer to work their magic underground, so make sure to work during the shadiest part of the day and make sure they are buried under your top soil. Earthworms are the secret to great garden growth. Again, compost will help to balance or reduce the pH of your soil, while adding necessary nutrients that enable your vegetable or herb garden to thrive.

Now that you are a compost whiz, you can continue to make the most of your compost, by making COMPOST TEA, which is not for you to drink, but for your plant's delight. It can be used topically, as a spray, or poured directly into the soil and is great for leaves, stems and potted plants.

STEP ONE: You will need either a pair of women's nylons, pantyhose or butter muslin, a zip tie or string, a small bucket, 1/2 to 1 gallon of water and 5 to 10 cups of decomposed compost, and a spray bottle or watering can, depending on your method of choice.

STEP TWO:
Fill the bucket with the appropriate amount of water.

STEP THREE: Transfer compost to the nylons, pantyhose or butter muslin and tie shut, so compost is secured within. Place in water. In a shady area, let soak for 2-3 hours to overnight. The longer it sits, the more concentrated and beneficial the brew becomes.

STEP FOUR:
Remove the compost bag and empty it back into the compost bin. Save nylons, pantyhose or butter muslin for later use.

STEP FIVE:
The liquid remaining is called compost tea. Either pour it into a spray bottle and topically spray leaves and stems or pour it into a watering can and pour directly into the soil. You may keep the tea in a shady area until it has been used up. It is Misfit Recommended that you spray leaves and stems or pour into your soil, weekly.

Your final question was, WHY DO I CARE?  You should care for at least four reasons:

  1. You are reducing household waste by recycling your scraps back into your garden, thus reducing your contribution to the local landfill.

  2. Home composting will save you money. You no longer have to  purchase store bought compost, which is not nearly as nutrient enriched as your own.

  3. You are ensuring that your fruit, vegetable or herb garden will yield a great crop.

  4. You realize that it is one more thing that you can do better than your neighbors and you can't put a price on pride!

 



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