November 21, 2011
Compost, admittedly, is not the sexiest thing to blog about, but it is important for your garden. So, let’s imagine Hugh Jackman telling you all about compost with his shirt off. Ready? OK, here he goes with his Australian accent: Compost is simply the best way to feed your soil, and the health of your soil determines the success of your garden. I’ve been composting for a while now but have noticed that lately my compost bin has been turning into a rather damp, foul-smelling mess.
A little research and a conversation with my friend and garden expert, Brent Larsen, gave me the guidance needed to rectify my stinky situation. The answer is more carbon-rich material, or dry matter. Nutrient-rich and balanced compost should have about a 60/40 split, dry to wet. That breaks down to 60% carbon-rich material and 40% nitrogen (everything that’s wet … including Mr. Jackman, now without his shirt, cooling himself off with the garden hose).
I had been putting all my food scraps, grass and garden clippings (which are all wet) into the compost bin, but not balancing it out with the carbon-rich dry stuff. What’s dry and full of carbon, you ask? Newspaper is a great source of carbon. Even the funnies can be used because the colored ink is soy based. Just make sure you shred the paper.
Dry leaves and straw are also great sources of the dry matter necessary for balanced compost. I also just bought a bale of straw to keep back by my large compost bin; every time I add the kitchen scraps (wet), I also add a handful of straw (dry). The result is much less smelly and far more nutrient-rich food for the garden.
Now that Hugh is contentedly sailing away on his yacht, I’ll leave you with one last tip—if you want more information on composting, I’ve found The Rodale Book of Composting to be a great and inspirational resource. It’s filled with easy, effective methods for gardens of all sizes.