Here’s a little advice from a leading Toronto landscaping company – don’t buy compost when it’s so easy to make at home. The time and expense needed to produce your own high quality compost is a modest outlay, and the results will be very rewarding. It’s an unavoidable fact that your garden’s organic waste has to go somewhere, so why not use it to your advantage.
Every year thousands of gardeners in the Toronto area buy pre-made compost while overlooking the nutrient rich waste they have on their very own doorstep. With a little planning all that organic debris, which seems such a nuisance to get rid of, can actually become one of the single most useful materials in your garden.
Benefits of Creating Your Own free Compost
So what are some of the benefits? Well, for a start you’ll save money: it’s a marginal expense, but once the first compost pile or bin has been set up you’ll never pay another dollar. It’s maybe small potatoes over a year but in the long-term there are real savings to be made. Also, you’re doing your bit for the environment. Where else is the waste going to end up? Probably bagged then thrown in the trash, then probably transported to a landfill site. The average Toronto home produces around 395 kg of waste every year so putting some of your kitchen and yard waste into a compost pile would make a much welcomed reduction. Last, but not least, there’s the benefits to your garden’s health. Home-made compost will save the need for chemical fertilizers and promote growth even in poor soil. It helps prevent the infestation of diseases and pests which can damage plants and soil, and it can help regenerate ground which has been exposed to toxins such as fuels or pesticides.
Tips on How to Make Your Own free Compost
So, how do we create our own compost? Let’s look at some tips from a top Toronto landscaping company.
- Use the Right Waste – A good general rule is to use 25 to 50% of soft green waste like; grass cuttings, weeds, manure, or vegetable peelings. The rest should be mainly brown material like wood chippings, dead leaves, sawdust, prunings, and even low grade cardboard and paper from the home. A balanced mix will help prevent the compost from becoming too compacted and also provide a diverse feed for the various bacteria and microorganisms which need to thrive there. Some things that are not helpful to add are pet manure, tea bags and coffee grinds, and meat and fish scraps. These items degrade slowly and produce bad odours. They’ll create unwanted bacteria and could potentially attract pests and vermin.
- Use a Bin – The simplest way to create compost is to just make a pile. This is the easiest way and the cheapest. However, better quality results can be made using an inexpensive compost bin. The mixture will benefit from a warmer more consistent environment, it will break down quicker, and with more consistency. Ideally a bin should be no less than 3 feet cubed, and no bigger than 5 feet cubed. This helps give the mixture the optimum amount of heat required to break down the waste. It should have aeration holes in its base, and it should be sited in a sunny part of the garden, and where any excess liquids produced from the mixture will drain away naturally. The waste should be added to the bin with a good measure of brown and green cuttings. If it’s not mixed properly the bin will have areas that are overly dry or overly wet. However, the first layer should be mainly brown waste to allow air circulation from the aeration holes underneath the bin. After this, a layer of ready-made compost or rich topsoil can be added to speed up the process. Also, it’s recommended to add a lot of waste at one time. Keep the bin full and be aware that some materials will degrade very quickly. Good quality bins can be cheaply purchased from most hardware stores or any Toronto landscaping company.
- How Long to Break Down – Theoretically waste can turn to compost in around three months. However, this can vary greatly depending on the mixture and environmental factors, and some compost piles can take as long as 12 months to fully mature. If the waste has a good combination of air, warmth, and water it will certainly break down quickly. But it’s advisable to aid the process by regularly turning the mixture to prevent materials becoming too wet and compacted. This can easily be done using a pitchfork or one of the many aeration tools which are commonly used by any Toronto landscaping company. At the very least it is recommended to periodically dig through the top layers with a trowel or fork. This can speed up the process and help produce a better quality compost. Finally, when your compost is ready it will have a dark, rich colour. And depending on how well balanced the mixture is it may seem overly clumpy or quite fine. There should be no trace of the materials used, and it should have a neutral, earthy odour.
So there it is. Instead of buying your next load of compost, you could be making your own and even selling what you don’t use. There are excellent compost conditioners and other products which can help the process but as a beginner it’s more fun to see what kind of results can be achieved for the most basic household and garden waste. Any Toronto landscaping company can advise you on how to make great compost, but with a little trial and error the average gardener can get high-grade fertilizer with little effort.