Page 162 - 2017-greengate-Gardensense-magazine
P. 162

With Calgary's growth,
be formed; with this system you should always have compost for using the garden. Composters can be placed on bare ground or raised on a 2x4 frame for ease of drainage. They can be in sun or shade. The warmer it is, the faster it decomposes, as long as it is always moist. If it is in the shade, it will simply take longer to decompose.
Types of compostable materials
There are two types of materials that can be composted, green materials and brown materials. Green materials are nitrogen rich, often kitchen waste such as coffee grounds, tea bags, fruit and vegetable waste, along with green plants and fresh grass clippings. These materials can be stored in a closed container under the sink, for later transfer to the composter. Brown materials are usually dry and carbon rich, such as dried leaves, dried grass clippings, twigs, and sawdust. Brown and green material should ideally be combined at a ratio of 20 parts brown to 1 part green. This is not an exact science, however, and gardeners should not concern themselves with the exact ratio.
Maintenance
Once your composter is in place and contains compostable material decomposition will begin and you can let nature take its course, or use a high nitrogen commercial activator. Natural activators such as coffee grounds and tea leaves, and bone and blood meal can also be used.
Turning or lifting the pile is essential to decom- position. Turning speeds up composting by allowing oxygen into it. If it isn’t turned over, bacteria and fungi would use up all the oxygen quite quickly, no heat can be produced, and the pile cools, slowing decomposition. Piles should be turned once a week for best results.
Wet the composting contents when necessary until damp, but not soaked. An unpleasant smelling composter is usually too wet. Turn the pile to improve air circulation and increase the amount of brown material to absorb moisture, until the desired moistness is acquired.
tip: Build up your soil with leaves, grass clippings and other yard debris. Doing this will turn your average soil into black gold, where virtually anything will thrive with less need to water.
landfill has become an issue and much of what we throw into the garbage, in the form of kitchen and yard waste, can be turned into useful compost. Along with easing Calgary’s landfill burden, compost is a natural slow-release fertilizer which, when dug into the garden, returns nutrients to the soil in the form of phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen, along with many others. Compost adds fiber to our clay soil, improving drainage and allowing oxygen into the soil. It can also be used as mulch for moisture retention, as well as a lawn dressing. Composting is great for the environment and beneficial for the garden. Finished compost will be rich, black, and almost sweet smelling, with a coarse and crumbly
texture.
Composters
Simple composting consists of piling up leaves, grass clippings and other garden waste, along with the vegetable matter from your kitchen garbage and allowing them to decompose. Containers can be purchased, or constructed out of wire mesh, or with wood slats, that allow air circulation. Air circulation is crucial to the decomposition process. Containers should have lids and also a simple way to remove the compost from the bin.
Depending on the volume of your garden waste, you may find the three-container system to be beneficial. In the three-container system new material is stored in the first container, decomposing material is stored in the second container, and compost is stored in the third. As the material goes though the stages of decomposition, material is forked from one bin to the next in the progression until it emerges as compost. It takes about a year for usable compost to
162
composting


































































































   160   161   162   163   164