How to Make Your Own Compost for Your Florida Garden
Tuesday March 15, 2022
As Florida’s premier lawn care and landscape maintenance company, we have met several homeowners who have green thumbs and also some who do not but would very much like to learn more on how to do landscaping and gardening better.
And because of that, we decided here at Pyle’s to release an article on how you can create your own compost to fertilize your own soil so you can grow healthier plants, whether you have a flower patch or a veggie garden.
You may think that composting is too complicated, smelly, and messy. This is only true if you compost the wrong way, but composting the right way is actually quite simple. Layer organic materials, add a dash of soil and water, and wait for it to turn into humus. Once you get your compost pile started, you'll find that it's an easy way to repurpose kitchen scraps and other organic “trash”.
When to Compost
You can start a pile at any time of the year. Just remember that making compost is not a one-time thing, it’s ongoing. It's not something you do in a week or two and then forget for a year. Keep a pile of this going near your kitchen, and you'll always have a place to recycle much of your household waste and turn it into something useful.
Types of Composting
Before you start, know that there are different types of composting.
- Cold composting is as simple as collecting yard waste or taking out the organic materials in your trash (such as fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds and filters, and eggshells) and then corralling them in a pile or bin. Over the course of a year or so, the material will decompose.
- Hot composting requires you to take a more active role, but the return is that it's a faster process; you'll get compost in one to three months during warm weather. Four ingredients are required for fast-cooking hot compost: Nitrogen, carbon, air, and water. Together, these items feed microorganisms, which speed up the process of decay. In spring or fall when garden waste is plentiful, you can mix one big batch of compost and then start a second one while the first "cooks."
- Vermicompost is made with the help of worms. When these worms eat your food scraps, they release castings that are rich in nitrogen. You need redworms or "red wigglers" for vermicomposting. Worms for composting can be purchased online or at a garden supply store.
What to “Hot” Compost
We will be teaching you how to hot compost for this article. Composting is a great way to use the things in your refrigerator that are a little past their expiration date, which helps reduce food waste. You can also compost certain kinds of lawn waste rather than send them to the dump.
Now, let’s focus more on hot composting.
Collect these materials to create your compost pile right:
- Vegetable scraps
- Fruit scraps
- Dry leaves
- Grass and plant clippings
- Coffee grounds
- Finely chopped wood and bark chips
- Shredded newspaper
- Sawdust from untreated wood
Keeping a container in your kitchen is an easy way to accumulate composting materials as you prepare meals. For kitchen scraps that could start spoiling quickly, store them in the freezer until you are ready to add them to your larger outdoor pile.
Mix Green and Brown Materials
To make your own hot-compost, wait until you have enough materials to make a pile at least 3 feet deep. You are going to want to combine your wet, green items with your dry, brown items. "Brown" materials include dried plant materials; fallen leaves; shredded tree branches, cardboard, or newspaper; hay or straw; and wood shavings, which add carbon. "Green" materials include kitchen scraps and coffee grounds, and fresh plant and grass trimmings, which add nitrogen. For best results, start building your compost pile by mixing three parts brown materials with one part green materials. If your compost pile looks too wet and smells, add more brown items or aerate more often. If you see it looks extremely brown and dry, add green items and water to make it slightly moist.
Keep the Pile Moist
Sprinkle water over the pile regularly so it has the same moisture as a damp sponge. Don't add too much water though, or else the microorganisms in your pile will become waterlogged and drown. If this happens, your pile will rot instead of turning to compost. You can reach into the middle of the pile with your hand. Your compost pile should feel warm.
Aerate Your Pile
During the piling season, you should provide the pile with oxygen by turning it once a week with a garden fork. The best time to turn the compost is when the inside of the pile feels warm. Stirring up the pile will help it cook faster and prevent material from becoming matted down and developing a foul odor. At this point, the layers have served their purpose of creating equal amounts of green and brown materials throughout the pile, so stir thoroughly.
Tip: In addition to aerating regularly, chop or shred raw ingredients into smaller sizes to speed up the composting process.
Feed Your Soil
When the compost cools down and becomes dry, brown, and crumbly, it's ready to be fed to the garden. Add about 4 inches of compost to your flower beds and into your pots at the beginning of each planting season.
You can also make what's known as compost tea with finished compost. This involves allowing the compost to "steep" in water for several days, then straining it to use as a liquid fertilizer for your indoor plants.
Compost is incredibly easy to make and it's definitely a treat for your garden. With just a few kitchen scraps and commitment, you'll have the healthiest garden possible.
Your Gardening Partner
All set with your compost to make these amazing plants thrive in your garden? We’ll help you take care of them with the Florida landscape design services of Pyle’s. Our excellent lawn maintenance services and custom designs for your home garden to be in tip top shape!
For more gardening and landscaping tips from the best Lakeland lawn care team, watch out for our next blog entries!