Creating Compost for the Garden

When I was a child we had a very large garden. My mom grew everything from root and vine vegetables to asparagus. She would send me out to weed the garden in the morning and it was something I hated to do. I got dirty and it was always so hot. The one thing that interested me was her compost. She would keep a bag in the kitchen for her scraps and put them in this circular screening in the center of the garden and each week or so she’d be out there with a pitch fork “stirring” it up.

Turn the clock ahead a few decades and I now have a garden plot in a community garden http://www.wesleygarden.org, growing things like beets, carrots, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumber, green beans and even sweet potatoes! I take my 5 year-old son who loves the garden and we happily weed it (I wear gloves) and look for buds and see how things are growing. Last year was the first time we did this and our garden grew rapidly and lush throughout the season. I was so excited I couldn’t wait to start the garden again this year.

Problem was, this year the garden took a long time, and the plants were barely growing. I discovered that previously they put mushroom soil in the garden plots, which is full of nutrients and enabled the garden to grow as well as it did. After winter and sun, and without any mulch to keep the nutrients in, the soil wasn’t as vibrant. I ran to Lowes and grabbed a couple bags of mushroom soil and immediately took it to the garden. By improving my garden soil, my plants were very happy and I saw positive results right away. This got me thinking about composting and my mom’s garden as a child. I decided to start doing this myself.

For those of you who haven’t done composting before, it’s a very easy task. Keep a bag or container (I use empty gallon milk containers and cut holes in them) and I put all my coffee grinds and kitchen scraps, including egg shells, into the container and take it to the garden every time I go. It’s amazing the amount of scraps I can collect in one meal! Important: do not put any protein (meat scraps, grease, etc) in the compost. It will attract unwelcome critters!

You’ll need to build a structure for the compost. Put all your yard waste (leaves, grass clippings, etc) and kitchen scraps in a compost pile and mix up with a pitch fork every couple of weeks. Spread this nutrient rich soil throughout your garden and you will have a lush garden and make some very happy vegetables! (Click here to see images of a compost structure http://www.compostinstructions.com/).

Happy Gardening!
Sue Kiefner (amateur gardener)

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