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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Got Compost: Confession of a DIY Composter

Got Compost: Confession of a DIY Composter: OK, hopefully DIY composters will read this and decide there is some value to my message. I’m a little afraid some may want to attack me wit...

Confession of a DIY Composter

OK, hopefully DIY composters will read this and decide there is some value to my message. I’m a little afraid some may want to attack me with rotten tomatoes. Then I remembered that die-hard composters would never waste good rotten tomatoes! They go in the compost pile, of course!  

Here goes, we’ve been composting at home for years now and I have a confession: I buy a couple yards of compost each year from a landscape supply center that carries compost from a local compost facility. They compost locally collected organics, supplying dealers with STA Certified Compost products.
Here are a few reasons to buy bulk compost:
  1. Quantity:  a home composter would have a difficult time coming up with enough compost to make serious improvements to a landscape. Many times, homemade compost will need to be supplemented with bagged compost, a costly addition if you’re amending soil or top dressing a lawn.
  2. WEEDS!: Homemade compost usually sits in a spare corner of the back yard, attracting a multitude of seeds from ground and air. When lawns are mowed, seeds can be collected with the clippings, going right into the pile. Seeds can also survive in leaf debris or on mature weeds that you pull from your garden. The only way to kill off these seeds in your compost pile is to monitor the temperature of the pile. Within a week, temperatures in a properly constructed compost pile should reach 130 degrees. That quickly kills many seeds and stabilizes the composted material. But it takes 30 days of exposure to temperatures of 145 degrees or more to kill seeds from tougher weed species. How do you know whether you’ve achieved the right temperature? Though compost thermometers are ideal, you can also reach into the pile. If it is uncomfortably hot to the touch, you’ve probably achieved the temperatures you need.
Sound like fun? Didn’t think so. Plus, most home composters don’t have the time or energy to tend to a compost pile this carefully so weed seeds stay alive in the pile, just waiting for a chance to sprout in lawns and gardens. Leaving them unchecked is the same as physically planting weeds into flower and vegetable gardens.
The Solution
For less than $100 annually, you can bring in two yards of quality organic compost; top dress lawns, load it into flower beds and be done in one day. Can you imagine the time and effort it would take to make 2 yards of compost every year? You’ll be able to put those organic materials to work sooner and see faster results! A definite win/win!
Oh, just a reminder: fall is fast approaching. Our lawns could use a breath of fresh air about now, so why not take a little time and add a fine layer of compost over the entire lawn (top dressing) and work it in with a stiff broom. Water thoroughly and in no time your lawn will be strong and green. Contact your local Harvest Blend Compost Dealer for compost and all the details.
By the way, we’re not going to give up on our compost pile. We’ll continue recycling our eggshells, potato peelings and coffee grounds, for a small harvest of the dark brown stuff. But to keep soil healthy, top dress lawns and grow the veggies our family loves so much, we invest a little "green" to gain a vibrant, healthy lawn and garden. Naturally!