Turn your Garbage Into Valuable Top Soil

By: Austin Lansing

Some areas are becoming stricter about how much garbage they will collect as well as what is in it (if they have a re-cycling program). To further add to the garbage problem, burning your household waste outside can be banned in some areas.

The answer is to compost! This solution will even give you that smug feeling of helping the environment (or it will at least mean that the garbage man won't leave your trash in the driveway!) According to the US National Soil Survey, "A single spade full of rich garden soil can contain more species of organisms than can be found above ground in the entire Amazon rain forest."

Two key rules with composting are: 1. do not use too much water - if you have to err, then less is better than more. 2.Think in terms of greens and browns. Greens are grass clippings, vegetable waste and kitchen scraps (nitrogen). Browns are fallen leaves, straw, newspaper and wood chips (carbons).

Browns are usually dryer than greens, and need to be. So collect your leaves on a sunny day and keep them in bags in your back yard to add to your compost as needed. Wet compost will always be available, as you will always have kitchen waste, so your (dry) leaves will be necessary. If you run out of dry leaves, you can shred newspaper, the print is almost always non toxic these days.

A compost pile is supposed to get hot (and even steam!) this will be the nitrogen burning off and indicates that your garbage is turning from decayed matter into compost. This heating up process works better if it is in a bin, and not a sprawling pile. This need not be expensive, just roll up a piece of chicken wire into a tube and line it with two black bin liners, allow air to circulate under the base. Protect it from animals and cover the top against rain.

Here are some healthy additions to nurture your compost pile: Finely ground limestone, a sprinkling of top soil, liquid seaweed emulsion (like SM3 or Maxicrop), a sprinkling of ground rock powders. Finally, many composting experts recommend that about 20% should be animal manure.

You can assemble your compost like this: First make a large spread out pile using 2 x five gallon buckets of dry browns, followed by one five gallon bucket of greens. Repeat this once more, then sprinkle ground limestone thinly over the top. Add any of the listed extras, and sprinkle some soil, then one or two liters of water with a watering can (it must be sprayed not poured). Do this whole procedure a couple more times, then mix it all up and fork it into your composting bin. This process has mixed it and so you can just leave it to 'do its thing'. Or, you can use Household Compost Activator as your liquid.

These are some of the foolproof ways of composting. In the old days, the pioneers just threw it all in an old (washed) oil drum, sprinkled lime and left it - maybe that will still work too!

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