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Lazy Ways to Make Organic Compost for Your Garden
If the compost bin is (is) the heart of an organic garden, it is important to set it up correctly if you want high quality organic compost. Don’t buy expensive high-tech compost bins from a garden center. Forget about building a tank, with a lot of work, out of wood. Instead, let nature do the work.
Here are some great green gardening tips for organic composting.
Organic compost container on legs
Many people sink a large plastic bucket, like a water tank, into the ground as a compost pit. The lid repels rain and composts even leftover fish and meat, pet and rodent free. But hauling finished compost from five feet down is difficult.
The solution is to raise the plastic container above the ground on bricks. Place a tap or tray under the drainage holes and you can dispense liquid compost – a concentrated plant food that is more balanced and beneficial than even that garden wonder, comfrey tea. (Black stinky gunk coming out of decaying comfrey leaves.)
The laziest composter for this purpose is an old metal incinerator. When the compost is ready, just turn the bin over.
Using a compost bin on bricks, you can make a ‘weed tea’ that serves a dual purpose. Rotten weeds will give you liquid food plus solid compost. Ideal ingredients are comfrey (high in phosphorus) and/or nettle (rich in nitrogen). Any garden weed that does not contain seeds will also add beneficial trace elements.
Just cover the bowl with fresh leaves and stems. (If you’re adding tree leaves, shred them first by passing them over with a lawnmower a few times, or place them in a barrel and process with an electric trimmer.) Scoop up the nutritious compost tea from the bottom of the bin and dig the rest of the rot into the soil or lay it on the surface as organic mulch.
Tires make organic compost
Five stacked tires make the perfect organic compost bin. They absorb heat so the bucket is quickly ‘cooked’. This is important if you want to destroy weed seeds or damaged leaves. Tires are easy to turn over when you need compost. They are easy to put back together.
Washed tires are safe in the garden. Laboratory tests have shown that they do not introduce toxins into your soil or plants. You can get all the old tires you need – giant tractor tires will make a raised bed on their own – no garages or tire change shops required.
Make sure the trash in the bins is damp, then place an old rug on top of the tire piles. If tall piles look ugly, mask them. Drop the degradable strands from the canopy to the ground and grow beans, peas, tomatoes, achocha, small squash or climbing flowers alongside them. In the fall, when your compost is ready, just cut the strands. Throw the plant remains, as well as the string, in the new empty pile of tires together with the garden waste.
Turn perennial weeds into compost, safely
The most annoying piece of advice I’ve read when taking compost instructions is: ‘make sure your compost bin reaches a temperature of 135°-150°F. In this way, it will cook all the weed seeds and diseased organisms’. I live in a temperate climate: zone 8. The day my compost bin reaches 100°F for three days in a row, I’m going to go fry an egg in it. That just doesn’t happen, does it?
Equally irritating is the advice to turn the pile every three days. We just don’t do that, do we? The lazy solution: You can render perennial weed roots harmless, without turning the pile, by placing them in a sealed plastic bag with lime and grass clippings in the summer. Add some other plant debris, if you like. Tie the top loosely or the resulting gases could burst the bag. With this process, they are cooked for three months or, in the tropical summer, three weeks. You get slimy, black, anaerobic, imitation cow dung. But it is miraculously fertile!
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