Over the course of the summer growing season you may be looking for ways to amp up your soil to make your plants more fruitful. The best and most organic way to get top-notch soil is via composting. Avoid store-bought “enriched” soils because they contain nitrates and pesticides that can cause unhealthy algal blooms and pollution when flushed into a body of water. The steps for making a compost pile are simple — composting will not only improve your garden, but also decrease the amount of trash you generate!
To make a successful compost pile, begin by placing a trash bin or more open enclosure in direct sunlight (there are also a wide variety of commercial compost bins available). The most important part of a compost pile is the carbon to nitrogen ratio, which should be about 1:1. This ensures the best conditions for the organisms that break down the compost.
When looking for carbon sources for your pile think brown: leaves, woodchips, and shredded newspapers. As a nitrogen source, look to green items such as food scraps, manure, and grass clippings. Avoid adding fats, animal products or animal droppings to the pile, as these can attract pests. Many local coffee shops will give out their brewed coffee grounds for free to add to compost piles because they enrich the soil and attract worms.
As your compost pile grows be sure to keep it damp and turn it over periodically so all the elements are exposed to the air and sunlight. After a couple weeks your starter materials should begin to transform into the dark, rich soil that will help your gardens! Making your own soil is a great way to reduce your food waste and improve your gardening. Happy composting!