Learning how to compost at the ASU Polytechnic community garden

I’m Susan Norton with University Sustainability Practices, and we are at the ASU Polytechnic community garden today. This is a space out here for students, staff and
faculty to engage and learn about organic gardening. So, in addition to learning how to garden in the
Sonoran Desert, we also do composting. Some of the items that you can put into compost
would either be green items or brown items. When we are talking about greens,
that usually means a nitrogen source, and that would be anything that’s living. So,
green waste from your kitchen, potato peels, carrot tops — things like that.
Also any kind of green waste from your garden. Browns would be considered anything
that is nonliving. So that could be wood chips, twigs, bark, paper bags,
cardboard — things like that. When it comes to composting, you usually
need equal parts of each, especially in the desert where it’s a dry climate.
So you want to layer equal greens to equal browns, add water, turn and that’s how
you get the decomposition activated. So now we’re going to take our ingredients that we
need for the compost pile to the pile and we are going to incorporate and mix. The next step to starting your compost pile
would be layering your greens and browns. So that’s what the students have been doing
out here. We had a layer of our green waste, then we added twigs, our newspaper,
some cardboard and mixed it up a little bit and then added another layer
again of green, browns and continued doing that. When we mix both layers together, we
need to add water as well. It’s an important component to the decomposition
process, so we need air and water. You want the moisture in the compost pile to
kind of be or feel like a wrung-out sponge, and that sort of helps to jump-start your
compost and actually produce your compost quicker. Compost can usually be ready to use anywhere
from two months to within three months, and that’s as long as you actually make sure
that the pieces of the compost that you put into your pile are actually small. So this is our garden. We have had a lot of success
over the years engaging students, staff and faculty in teaching them how to garden
organically. I am excited to announce as we near Earth Day, that we will be
opening our new garden (on Polytechnic campus) which will be more centrally located. This will be more of a themed area with a
garden and interdisciplinary spaces, where we can educate our students in a greater
capacity with new programming, new event space and new activities. We
hope you’ll stop by.

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