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Composting 101

Waste and humans go hand in hand. One day, years ago, on this little pin point of a planet, Helga went over to her “waste pile” and found luscious greenery growing. She put two and two together and low and behold, Helga was the first composter. She took the composted waste, such as kitchen scraps, and started amending her soil with it.

Helga probably was several bright women and men, over the years, who listened to Mother Earth. As Ty Smith recently told me, “Listen to the Earth. It will tell you what you need.”

If you watch Youtube, you may think that composting is hard. It’s NOT. The main rule to composting is to leave out the meat products.

Start a pile, somewhere away from your house, preferably. You can make a fancy pallet bin, purchase a compost bin online, use fence wire, or just make a pile.

The second rule… Leaves are GOLD. Collect leaves. Collect your neighbor’s bagged leaves that they leave at the curb for pick up. Rake up your leaves. They are truly compost gold. Do not throw them away.

Now for the easy part. For every layer of kitchen scraps, put in a layer of leaves. This keeps everything airy and light. You can use old vegetables, can goods and pretty much anything, except cheeses and meat. If you live in an area where stray cats, possums and coons are a nuisance, then lay light on the bread. Cheeses and meats seem to bring in flies and they take a longer time to break down.

Water lightly daily. We are in a bit of a monsoon season here in South Carolina, so adjust your watering. In a few weeks, if you dig a few layers into your compost, you will start to see earth worms. Earth worms are like compost super chargers. They are attracted to the moist, decaying matter. You can buy red worms and add to your bin or pile also.

Earth worms will feed upon and digest the organic matter. The outcome is beautiful, dark, rich soil, also called earth worm castings. Earth worm castings are steaming with beneficial bacteria, enzymes, growth stimulants, nutrients and more, all that is better served in your garden, rather then in the landfill.

Forget the turning, and the expensive equipment. Be like Helga and simplify. Throw your stuff in a pile, add some worms and as my friend Cassy says, “Let it cook.” The outcome will be beautiful, dark organic matter. Let’s get growing South Carolina, and Composting too.

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