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Backyard Composting – Giving new life to old potato peels

RECYCLE AND REAP THE BENEFITS Maureen Sexsmith-West ISA Certified Arborist, PR4600A Compost serves a multitude of purposes: Enriches the nutrient levels of your soil Improves soil structure by helping to break up clay Retains moisture levels (1 kg of compost can hold 2 kg of water!) Keeps your Soil pH in balance Suppresses plant diseases Reduces landfill demands Reduces the need for fertilizer applications Works as a great top-dress layer for lawns. Protects roots (similar to mulching) The end product, humus, contains the magic three – nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium along with a variety or micro-nutrients. It is full of healthy microorganisms. It can be spread on lawns, in gardens and flowerbeds. Composting doesn’t require much space, time or effort to produce. The type of structure or method is flexible and can be very inexpensive to construct. The most important element is a well-drained, sunny location. Your composter can be situated on concrete, soil or grass. Heck, you don’t even need a container – you can create a pit in the garden too.

I have an old plastic Folger’s coffee container with a tight fitting lid under my sink. All my raw vegetable scraps, fruit peels, coffee grounds and egg shells end up in that tin. If necessary, I chop up large items such as cabbage cores before adding. Smaller pieces will break down faster. At the end of the week or when full, year round, they are dumped into my bin. This constitutes ‘green waste’. Other items in this category include tea bags, leaf and grass clippings or other yard waste. It is important to include ‘brown waste’ – this includes ashes from the fireplace/fire pit, dry brown leaves, dry grass, woody stems from perennials plants, sawdust, wood chips or shredded egg cartons. Build in layers from bottom to top: brown


waste, moisten, green waste, soil – repeat. Turning keeps oxygen in the pile, keeps it materials loose and reduces any odours. Avoid meat, dairy, fats, cooked food, diseased plant parts, pet waste, corn cobs or charcoal ashes.

You can turn your compost into tea and by steeping a shovel full in an old pillow case in a 5 gallon pail of water. After a few hours the water will change to a pale yellow. Pull out the bag and dump the contents back into the compost pile. Water your tomatoes or flowers for great results. If you haven’t started your own pile and want the enjoy the benefits of compost this Spring, I can recommend Boersma Composting (Tate Boersma) to help you get started, supply and spread if needed. 403 849-1347.

For more information visit this link: Gov’t of Alberta Publication

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