Lazy Composting

peasIt’s pea-planting time in New Jersey. I ordered my peas and inoculant; they are sitting and awaiting my having the time and energy to plant them. I already dug a trench where I want them planted.

Digging the “trench” (it’s only about 3 inches wide) was easy because the “dirt” in that spot is a mound of compost. When I started composting, I used to put all my compost scraps in one corner of my yard. But come planting time, I then need to transfer a heap of the stuff to my garden spot. Also, I found the chicken wire I originally used more of a nuisance in terms of turning the compost than a help. Instead, I now pile the scraps one season earlier in the spot where I will later plant. The compost may not be fully de-composed, but that’s OK.

What do I put in my compost? Vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grinds, egg shells. Animal products are a no-no, as they attract rodents and other unwanted creatures. Every time I put down a pile of these kitchen scraps, I cover it with some soil. That will help keep away any flies. Also, the scraps needs soil to decompose. I also add layers of garden “waste” such as dried weeds with no flowers, dried grass, thin sticks. Every now and then I turn the pile (except in winter; impossible to do when the ground is frozen!).

Key elements in compost are: air (turn it sometimes), moisture (add a bit of water if it hasn’t rained much), soil and/or manure, carbon and nitrogen (which you get from the kitchen and garden wastes).

You can read more about composting online (try, for example) or from a book (I own The Rodale Book of Composting). But my suggestion is: try it! Ask questions as you go along. You don’t need to be a chemist to make compost.

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