Composting for Your Garden

(guitar blues music) – Good morning! My name is Bettye Ames, and I am a Howard County Master Gardener, and I am here today to
talk about composting. Composting happens when materials from the yard and the
garden and from the kitchen are mixed together with water
and air and decomposers, and they begin to rot. And once your materials have rotted, they become black gold for the garden. Let’s talk about what actually
goes into those materials. You have carbon materials and you have nitrogen. Basic components, building blocks of most everything on this planet. We also need a little bit of water. It helps to have a few trusty tools like a pitchfork or garden fork to help turn your compost
and get that air in there, so that your compost will
start cooking for you and break down more rapidly. Now, you want materials
to be as small as possible so that the decomposers
have plenty of surface area. This will help to make your materials decompose more rapidly. And this is a pretty good activity when you’re mad at the
kids or your husband. Now, let’s say you don’t have a machete. A shovel is very affective in its place. Optimally, you’d like
the have an equal amount of carbon material and nitrogen material. Now, your carbon materials are going to be your dried
leaves, that type of thing. Your nitrogen is going to come from green grass clippings
and from kitchen waste. When we talk about kitchen waste, that means all of those
egg shells and lemon peels and ends of the carrots
and ends of the greens that you’re not going to eat. Things that have gone bad in the kitchen that need to be disposed of. Moldy bread. Cereal that your kids
won’t consider eating. All of these things should
be tossed into your compost and considered sources of nitrogen. So, we want to have an
equal amount, if possible, it’s not rocket science, but close, of carbon and nitrogen materials. It’s also very important that your compost maintain a certain level of moisture for it to be hot or to permit
decomposers to be very active. And for that, you need to add water. Sometimes you have water
from rain, and that’s great, but if not then you need
to add your own water. Remember, the goal is to make sure that your compost maintains
a consistency or a wetness somewhat similar to a wrung out sponge. So, what do we have for
all of our hard effort? We have finished compost. Now, as you can see the finished material is nice and dark. The individual components
have pretty much broken down and they are indistinguishable. You might be able to
recognize a few leaves. And (inhales) ooh! Smells nice and earthy. No smell, no bad smells to that. Now, this compost is
ready to be incorporated into my garden bed to help amend the soil, to feed the plants, to make the soil much more hospitable and friendly for the bacteria and organisms that are going to help your plants grow and do their very best. So there you have it. That’s how you compost. Very easy, very little effort, and the rewards are remarkable.

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