At this point in the summer season, your once lively garden may be struggling with disease, your soil may look dry and cracked, and your garden might be in need of a little pick-me-up.
Instead of turning to chemical fertilizers to solve your problems, look instead to the fruit and vegetable scraps sitting in your trashcan. By composting those food scraps, you can create your own organic plant food that will improve your garden’s health and liveliness.
At Sacramento Charter High School, we compost all of our kitchen scraps, and we utilize a simple, easy to use composting system to turn unused food into a valuable resource that feeds our soil, our plants, and our souls.
Whether your garden is big or small, these composting tips can help you reduce your food waste and create your own organic soil support system.
1) Be Careful What You Compost
The key to a healthy compost bin is knowing what you should and should not compost. For your home compost bin, keep out dairy and meat, and your pile will be nice and healthy.
2) Know Your Ratios of Browns to Greens
Your compost should be made up of more than just your food scraps. In order for your compost to be safe for garden use, you want a 2:1 ratio of brown, carbon rich material like dry leaves or straw, to green, nitrogen rich material like food scraps. A healthy balance of browns to greens keeps your compost from getting out of balance and hurting your soil.
3) Keep Consistent Moisture
Your compost should have the moisture content of a wet sponge that has been wrung out. If you add more water, the fungus, bacteria, and invertebrates that are working their magic in the compost will drown, and if you add less water, it will take longer for the scraps to break down.
4) Shake it, Turn it, or Roll it
Mixing your compost regularly helps material break down quickly, and it prevents pests from moving in to your pile. Similarly, it balances out moisture and allows the compost to stay hot. Depending on the size of your bin, after about 6-8 weeks, you will have compost ready for the garden.
5) If you don’t have time for it, SHARE IT
If maintaining a compost bin seems like too much work for you, there are other ways to support the practice. During the week, collect your food scraps, and then, when you do your shopping at the farmers market, bring your scraps with you and drop them in a compost bin!
Have any questions? Feel free to reach out on Instagram @EdibleSacHigh. You can also come meet me, Nicholas Anicich, and some of the Edible Sac High students I work with, at the Midtown Farmer’s Market on Saturday June 25th 2016. Hope to see you there!