Five questions: Composting 101
Spring is a good time to start a compost bin in your yard for a natural way of fertilizing soil. Officials with the Wyandotte County Extension Office Master Gardeners answer some questions about composting below.
Q: How should I get a compost bin started?
A: Select a site where water will not stand. Build a structure at least 3-foot by 3-foot with wooden pallets, cement blocks, snow fence and/or chicken wire.
Q: What are the first materials to gather to start a compost pile?
A: “Greens” for a source of nitrogen: grass clippings, garden plants, and most kitchen wastes (avoid meat scraps); and “browns” for a source of carbon: dried leaves, straw, wood chips, shredded newspaper and sawdust.
Q: How do you layer a compost pile?
A: Start with 2- to 3-inch layer of soil. Then add organic materials in layers 3- to 6-inches deep. The nitrogen (green) to carbon (brown) ratio should be one part greens to two parts browns. Add a commercial garden fertilizer (half a cup per bushel of material). Water each layer as it is added.
Q: How do you maintain your compost pile?
A: Repeat the sequence as materials become available. Water regularly — every week if it doesn’t rain. The top of the pile should be dish-shaped to hold moisture, and it should have the feel of a damp sponge. Turn the material with a pitchfork every week or so, as decomposition creates heat.
Q: When can you use your compost as fertilizer?
A: Four to six months after starting the pile. Compost will be dark, moist and crumbly, and should smell like moldy leaves. Contact your county’s extension office for more information.
More like this story
- Long VA waits less of a problem in Kansas than elsewhere
- Salina company acquires 13 vintage record presses
- Kansas Senate panel to consider expanding liquor licenses
- Community walk to mark 1-year anniversary of shootings at Jewish sites
- Tonganoxie vigil pays tribute to 21-year-old killed in Thursday morning wreck