HOW TO COMPOST AT HOME
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of composting and how great it is for the environment and your garden. If you have a green thumb and you like to give your plants their best, then you should start composting right now. It’s nature’s way of recycling and for the sake of enriching your garden soil and making it fertile, everyone has gotten in on the compost movement. If you have not started composting yet, that’s okay! It’s not too late to get started and one of the best ways to do it is from the comfort of your home as it’s quite easy to do.
We’re excited you want to do something extra for your plants as compost can be added to make your soil fertile which could help you grow some nice veggies in your garden. Composting is known to be one of the ways that organic waste is biodegraded. If it sounds like an adventure you would like to get in on, keep reading to learn exactly how to compost at home.
Get your equipment ready.
This sounds a lot more sophisticated than it is. Some people like to have a simple rot pile, you can have it located in your backyard or somewhere around the house where you can dump vegetables, leaves and other compost materials or you could choose to get a nice bin for your compost instead. What’s great about this part is that you can purchase a good bin online or use any old kind of container laying around your house that is no longer in use. Whatever kind of bin you decide to use, make sure it’s easy to rotate so you can turn your compost around and mix it up. If you’re going with the option of a rotting pile, it shouldn’t be too high, about 3 feet would do so you can easily mix it but it should be compact enough to retain heat.
Select a location
Let’s face it, compost is actually waste and like some waste, it might come with some unpleasant smells as composting is biodegraded organic waste and no one wants to have it smacked in their face each time they walk past your yard. While you decide to do your recycling with nature, choose a place where you can keep your compost safely, out of the reach of foraging animals and with enough exposure to air so the breeze helps keep your compost cool and aerated. It’s also great to have your location close to shade and enough access to water.
Start tossing in your materials
This is the fun part! After setting up your compost site and getting your rot pile or compost bin ready, the next step is to begin the good work of recycling natures way! There are lots of stuff you can add to your compost as long as they are organic and biodegradable. Things like vegetable scraps and peels, coffee grounds, manure from animals like sheep or chickens, yard waste like leaves and sticks and even newspapers or eggshells can go in your compost.
However things like animal products especially meat, bones or butter shouldn’t go in your compost. Also, stuff like synthetic chemicals, ash, seeds or pet waste should have no place in your compost. You should have a nice balance of brown materials and green materials so your compost gets enough carbon and nitrogen and don’t forget to add water sparsely so your compost is moist but don’t over-wet the compost and kill off the bacteria.
Pay close attention to your compost
It’s not enough to just toss your compost materials in your rot pile or bin and walk away, you have to monitor it, check on it often and make sure it maintains the right temperature of being warm so the composting process stays active. This will also let you know when your pile needs to be mixed or turned. You can use your hands or a thermometer to check your compost temperature and if it was previously warm but turns cold later, you need to give it a nice turn to get the process back in action. It’s also important that your compost stays moist and gets enough oxygen so the bacteria keeps working. You can use a pitchfork to turn your compost and you should also add moisture to your dry materials like sawdust and dry leaves when you add them to your composting pile.
Wait for your compost to mature
The waiting process can take anything from weeks to months or years before your compost is ready. You can help the process along by covering your rot pile or compost bin with a tarp to retain the moisture content of your compost. This isn’t strictly necessary and you can skip this part if you want to. So if you are wondering how to know when your compost is ready, look at the bottom of the pile of your compost. If it is dark and rich in color then your compost is nice and ready to use.
Start using your compost
When your compost is ready, you can now mix it into your garden soil to act as an enricher or fertilizer or lay down some of your compost on top your garden or lawn soil to act as mulch. In no time you’ll notice a difference in how your plants are faring and you’ll be all the more glad you decided to learn how to compost at home.
There are no strict laws to how many compost piles you can have at a time, as long as you have enough space and materials to put in, you can have as many compost piles as you want to keep your gardens and landscape going. With the tips we’ve shared with you above, you’ll be recycling in nature’s way in no time and your garden will thank you for it. The process is pretty
easy and basically every material you need is right at your fingertips. You’ll be able to avoid wasting things like vegetable scraps and other organic biodegradable waste by putting them to good use in creating the compost of your dreams.
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Building a “Harvest-ready” potato bucket
With a pair of large buckets, you can create a system that will allow you to check on your growing tubers – and even harvest a few new potatoes – without digging up the entire crop.
The first step is to put several holes in the bottoms of both buckets say 6 x 1/2″ holes evenly spaced – you can make these holes with a drill or just hammer a nail through the bottom of the bucket.
Remember: good drainage is crucial. Potatoes will rot if there’s too much water around them. Now, set one bucket aside; it will be the outer layer.
The next step is to cut away 3 vertical sections of the inner bucket and leave 3 vertical sections in place to view the potatoes through. The best way to do this is to divide the bucket into 6 sections by drawing vertical lines down the bucket. Next you should cut away 3 of the 6 sections – leaving 3 sections of the bucket in place.
This is not really necessary as you will know when the potatoes will be ready by the green tops dying away a few weeks after flowering – but it is nice to show your kids how the potatoes grow underground.
Growing potatoes in a bucket
It’s important that you place your bucket on bricks or something so that excess water can drain away. Don’t put it directly on grass or soft soil that might clog the drainage holes. If you place a brick at each side of the bottom of the bucket, that would be an excellent base.
Next, line the bottom of the bucket with your soil/ compost – if you’ve chosen to use potting mix, add a bit of perlite or polystyrene to improve drainage. You’ll need at least 6”-8”into the bottom.
Spacing seed potatoes
Now add your sprouted seed potatoes -1 is good 2 is maximum. I would advise planting one to start with.
You can fit two plants in a 5-gallon bucket, there will be more in number but they will be smaller than if you put in one seed potato to grow one plant. Potatoes need a lot of room. Stuffing in more plants will just result in smaller tubers.
Cover potatoes with soil
Cover the seed potatoes over with your soil to a depth of about 6”. Water them liberally to settle the soil, then set your bucket in a warm sunny spot. They will need at least six hours of sun during the day, and should be protected from strong winds or heavy rains. Strong wind and rain will break the stems and kill your plant.
That’s why bucket-grown potatoes are so handy: if the weather isn’t cooperating, you can always bring your crop indoors until the storm goes away.
Caring for your growing crop
Your potatoes will thrive in slightly acidic soil – the pH should be between 4.8 and 5.4 for optimal results. The plants will grow best in cooler areas, with daytime temperatures between 15°-20°C. If you live in a warm region, try planting in the early spring (just after the last frost) or the late summer or early autumn.
As your potatoes tops grow larger, continue adding soil if you start to see potatoes appearing through the top layer of soil- make sure no potatoes can be seen or they will get sunburned and need to be dumped.
Leave only the stems and leaves above the soil. This will encourage your plants to grow upward, allowing more tubers to form along the underground stem.
Watering your potatoes
Water your buckets little and often or whenever the soil is dry within an inch below the surface. Feel free to add nutrients weekly using a low-nitrogen fertilizer, or a weak compost or manure tea. You could also substitute compost for soil when covering over the green growth.
How do i know when to harvest potatoes?
When is the best time to enjoy the fruits – or rather, roots – of your labour?
You can begin harvesting new potatoes a couple of weeks after the plants come into flower. This normally happens within a couple of months after planting the potatoes.
The crop will be mature when the green plant tops turn yellow-brown and wilt with age. This typically will take 90-120 days, depending on the potato variety you chose. Once the stem turns yellow, stop watering your plants and wait about a week or so.
Unless you’ve built a harvest-ready bucket, it’s hard to judge the size of your crop without seeing it. Plunge your hand into the growing medium and root around. Try to find the largest tubers and remove them first. If you leave space in the bucket while the plant is still in flower, the remaining tubers will continue to grow.
If you chose to build your own special bucket, you can pull the outer bucket away and easily assess your growing tubers or harvest the new potatoes. Later, you’ll be able to identify the largest spuds for early harvesting.
You can also collect the entire crop at once by gently turning the bucket over and dumping the contents out. Dust off the tubers and store them when dry in a cool, dark, dry place until you’re ready to use them.