I have been composting for many years now, even when I rented. I did this mostly to be "green" and reduce landfill waste my family created. That changed when we purchased our own home. That is when I not only composted to be "green" but also for the end product. The soil at my new home was hard and unworkable, especially in my backyard. I began using my compost to raise up (mound) my flower beds to make it easier to plant and to give the plants a fighting chance. When I began work on my backyard I began a form of composting similar to "lasagna" gardening. This method has made a huge difference in the condition of the soil in my backyard. Almost every flower bed is a product of lasagna gardening, even a few in my front yard. It has worked out very well for me and I think it would work well for anybody who has difficult soil. The addition of compost to any soil can only improve it. Here are a couple of pics of some of my lasagna beds that I have made:
|The start of a lasagna bed last fall|
|Lasagna bed this spring|
|Completed lasagna bed now connecting 2 other beds|
|Lasagna bed in progress|
|Lasagna bed complete and planted|
|Lasagna bed today|
1. So what do I compost? Just about anything that is plant based. This includes small sticks or branches (cut up), paper, vegetable waste, leaves, pine needles, grass, weeds that haven't set seed, yard waste (non diseased), sod, dirt, cotton clothing, tea bags, coffee grinds, old coffee, old juices, fruit, old mulch, fish water, gunk from my pond when I clean it, the list can be endless. What I do not put in my compost is dog or cat waste (most other animal waste is fine), meats, dairy, fats, bread or pasta-some of these attract unwanted animals or nasty bugs.
|Grass clippings to compost|
|Sticks to compost|
|Paper to compost|
|Vegetables for compost|
2. What do I use to collect my compost in the house? I use an ice cream bucket. No need for anything fancy-the ice cream bucket seals well enough to keep odors in and if it gets too nasty I can throw it in the recycle bin and use a new one. You can decorate it if you feel the need, but I leave it. I usually have a few on hand-I can fill a bucket up fast so I have backups ready.
|Ice cream bucket to collect compost|
3. Where do I put my compost pile? Wherever I want a new flower bed or for my other pile I put it where I can find the space. These are usually in the backyard-compost piles are not attractive so I avoid anywhere in the front yard. Since they are in the back that means they are in shade or part shade. If you want to hot compost (which will kill seeds and diseases) it will need to be in full sun. I cold compost-which takes longer so my location does not matter.
|My compost area|
|Lasagna garden I am working on-was a low area|
4. Do I need to turn my compost pile? If you want to. It will make it "work" faster. I do not. I just lay it in a pile, cover it, then let nature and the worms do their job.
|Worms galore in my compost pile|
5. Do I worry about browns and greens? Nope. I just add what I have. I do, however, cover any new addition to the pile with either soil, leaves or grass. This helps keep animals out and also keeps it from smelling.
6. Do I get bugs in my compost? Sure do-all kinds. Does it "bug" me? Nope-bugs, like worms, are an essential part of the composting process.
7. How do you lasagna garden? My lasagna gardening technique is almost the same as everyone else except I do not lay down cardboard and I do not double dig. I just find a spot for the garden and start my pile. I usually begin this in fall when I have an abundance of leaves and pine needles and this is also when I have plenty of yard debris from my gardens.
|The start of a lasagna garden|
|Adding scraps to new lasagna garden|
|Just keep adding material to the lasagna garden until it fills in|
|Lasagna garden almost ready|
8. How long does it take to have a finished lasagna garden? Depends on the size of garden you want and how much material you have. It takes about 1-2 years for some of the gardens I have made, but if you went small you can pile and plant right away.
9. Does it really work? You bet! The soil in my backyard has improved 100 percent! Before I had nothing-not even weeds (wish I had a before picture) and now I can grow just about anything.
10. What else do you use your compost for? I usually add it to my flower beds when I expand them or fill in holes I create. I also use some of the compost from my actual compost pile for the lasagna beds to cover up the additions of scraps I make. Let's just say I use a lot of it!
Composting and lasagna gardening are wonderful ways to add nutrients to your soil and to also help the environment. Why send all of that great garbage to the dump when you can use it at home and reap the benefits? If you want to read up on another easy method for composting check out my friend The Garden Frog's technique at this link: http://thegardenfrog.me/2015/06/16/composting-is-as-easy-as-digging-a-hole/#more-3500. I hope I have motivated you to do some composting or lasagna gardening and if you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below.
As always-Happy Gardening! Rhonda