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Publication: Garden Guides
All About Compost

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                   Garden Guides Newsletter 
                      November 7, 2006


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Despite myself being a gardener, I was not always familiar 
with the benefits of composting. I thought I'd give a chance 
to offer not only some tips on compost, but a chance to get a 
head start for the spring. Though compost does go dormant in 
the winter, that should not dissuade you from collecting during 
these colder months. When the weather warms, you will be ready 
to watch your compost begin to transform into a very beneficial 
fertilizer. So I recommend you start collecting now in order 
to insure beautiful flowers and vegetables in the spring!

Happy Gardening!

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Special Benefits of Composting

What is compost?

Compost is the finished decomposed product of organic material 
from your garden and household, such as leaves, grass 
clippings, fruit and vegetable peelings, egg shells and even 
fluff from your dryer! Given the proper conditions these 
materials will turn into a rich earthy material that will 
enrich your soil and add nutrients to your plants. Best of 
all, this compost is free!

Composting is not new. But more gardeners are discovering 
that it is an excellent way to recycle green material from 
your garden, reuse household vegetable waste while at the 
same time reducing the amount of material sent to landfills. 

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Basically to make compost successfully, 
you need three things:

1. Air     The microbes that break down and decompose the 
material, need air. Otherwise your compost pile could end up 
smelling like a garbage heap! This means if you are adding 
things like wet leaves or grass it is essential that you turn 
and “fluff up” your pile each week or add straw or similar 
material to add bulk and prevent the leaves and grass from 
matting down into a slimy solid layer.
2. Water  The material in your compost pile should be slightly 
moist, like a wrung out sponge. This moisture is what the 
microbes need to flourish and do their job of breaking down 
the compost materials. If you add a lot of dry ingredients 
to your compost pile like straw or autumn leaves, then be 
sure to add some moisture. However, don’t let your pile get 
too wet as that will pack down the materials too much and 
prevent decomposition.
3. Food    The microbes need a good mixture of two basic 
materials. Green plant materials such at green leaves, tea 
bags, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable scraps and brown 
plant materials which are dry and dead. These include straw, 
dry weeds and leaves and even sawdust. Things to avoid are 
cooked vegetables and meat products. Although some people can 
successfully add just about anything to their compost piles, 
cooked or processed vegetable matter and meat may attract 

Depending on the temperature, and how often you turn your 
compost pile, your finished material could be ready in just 
a few weeks. In colder areas, your pile will go dormant in the 
winter but as soon as it warms up again in the spring, the 
microbes get right back to work breaking down the garden 

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What kind of compost bin do you need?

There are dozens of types of compost bins. All you really need 
is a pile, but most gardeners prefer a contained area. You can 
readily build one yourself from slats of wood and some chicken 
wire. These are great because they allow more air circulation. 
More sophisticated types are made from plastic and they 
intensify the heat and speed up the process of decomposition. 
Some even come with cranks built in so that the job of turning 
is made simple.          

Gardeners who are really serious about composting will 
generally have two compost bins going at once. That way, they 
aren't adding new fresh waste to a pile that is almost 
finished decomposing. If you build your own, you can make two 
or three compartments, one for each stage of decomposition.

Whatever you choose, give composting a try and you, your 
garden and the landfills will reap the benefits. Visit these 
merchants to view their selection of compost bins.

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