Compost Basics

Compost is decomposed organic material. You might have heard that it makes gardens grow with more organic material mixed with the soil. Keep compost out of landfills in the same type of category as recycling. Many cities have “compost” programs as part of their waste systems including New York, San Francisco and Portland. Here are some basics that we discussed at our Southside Monthly Potluck last night to get you started to think about compost, how to dispose of your fruit & vegetable scraps with community garden programs and prepare for two free Home Grown New Mexico classes with more detailed information.

What can you compost?
Any organic material can be composted, but it is recommended to keep the format structured to maintain critters and pests away from your bin and complete two 6-month cycles of compost each year. Each compost bin must have equal parts of “greens” and “browns” to mix and start the decomposition. Here are some tips for each type.

GREENS- Nitrogen
Fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, weeds (except bind weed) and green plant trimmings

BROWNS- Carbon
Straw, hay, dirt, leaves, saw dust, bread in small pieces, shredded newspaper and horse manure

WHAT NOT TO COMPOST:
Meat, dairy, fats (control critters in bin),  dog or cat manure (or anything that eats meat), weed seeds, plants with pests or soil borne illness and compostable items (if you want a 6-month compost process)

Water, oxygen and worms are also important to the process. Pests will not live in the wet compost. Test by squeezing a drop of water out of a handful. Watering your compost to this moisture is important. Mixing half green and half brown each time is also important. If you dump “greens” on the pile without covering with browns, they will become rotten and not break down. Dig a hole in the compost and add your greens or have some leaves saved to place on top. Red Wiggler Worms eat bacteria and can help move the compost bin forward more quickly. You can buy these at the Santa Fe Farmers Market from Sam McCarthy on Saturdays.

How to Build a Compost Bin
Tuesday, August 28th at 6:45pm
Monthly Potluck at Whole Foods Community Room on St. Francis
Deb Farson is a Certified Master Composter and lived in Northern California to help people learn to compost with worms and held a neighborhood compost program. She will teach a 30-minute class on how to start your compost bin.

Composting Class from Soilutions
Sunday, October 7th at 2pm
Milagro Community Garden (Rodeo and Legacy)
Walter Dods, Soilutions

Community Garden Compost Collection
We will take your fruit and vegetable waste and create compost for community gardens. Contact 473-1403 for details.

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