This week’s question for our New Brunswick Garden Mentors is: What is your number one tip for composting and soil building?
Main tips for composting are:
Turn every few weeks, and
Use brown material (old leaves, wood small branches), green material (garden debris) and fertilizer such as finished compost for organisms that create compost.
If you need only a small amount of compost, you can use a plastic trash can to compost fine materials such as leaves, lawn clippings, or chopped garden refuse. You can make layers as you would for a compost pile or mix the materials all together. Add about 2 litres of water. Tie the bag and turn it over every few weeks to aerate the materials and distribute the moisture.
Handy brochure on Home Composting: Cornell eCommons
My #1 composting tip would-be, (assuming we’re paying attention to our wet:dry ratios) to chop everything up as small as possible before you add it to your compost bin or pile.
Whether it’s by hand, with a paper shredder, lawn mower, or a weed whacker in a bucket, breaking compost ingredients down into small pieces really helps speed up the process!
I rely on the leaves of the comfrey plant as a nutritious mulch for my garden beds. The comfrey plant (symphytum officinalis) has a long taproot that brings minerals up from deep in the ground and contains them in its big leaves. Using these leaves as a mulch is an easy (and free!) way to feed your plants and add lots of nutrients back into the soil. Also, I use the leaves to make a “compost tea” and apply this as a weekly foliar & root spray to give plants a boost.
My #1 tip: Feed your soil a few inches of organic compost on your soil surface instead of tilling it in. This preserves your soil structure, mycelium network and worm population for long term fertility while minimizing labor.