Compost: Because a rind is a terrible thing to waste.

If you want to grow your own food, the place to start is by making compost. Some people make this out to be much more complicated than it really is. Here is a basic recipe for making compost.

Select a place for a compost pile, and dig the ground up a bit. Put down a layer of twigs and small branches, and then make alternating layers of "brown and dry" materials and "green and wet" materials. Brown and dry can include leaves, shredded tree limbs and bark, newspapers (no shiny slick papers or colored inks), brown cardboard, dried grass clippings. Green and wet includes kitchen scraps, green lawn trimmings, green leaves, flowers, weeds, plants, etc. It's best not to put fats or meats in the pile, as that will attract varmints, but they will compost if not eaten...

Wet each layer thoroughly, and toss a shovel of soil on each layer and a couple of small branches. Pile it up at least 3 feet high and 3 feet wide, & then leave it alone for a year. If it's a dry summer, water it so it stays damp inside (like a wrung out sponge). After about a year, rake away the leaves still on top, and inside will be a nice, rich, dark loamy compost that smells like forest dirt when you sniff it.

If you can't wait a whole year, you can make compost faster by fussing with it a bit. Every week or so go out and "turn it", that is to say, use a pitchfork and move the compost to a different spot, so that what was "outside" on the pile is now inside, and what was inside is now on the outside.

If the compost heap starts to smell bad, something's wrong, probably either too much "wet and green" or it has somehow gotten so compacted that air can't get in. For the problem of too much wet and green, add more brown and dry. If the pile has become compacted, then stir it up a bit and add some small branches (the purpose of the branches is to keep the pile from compacting and to help air circulate).

If you dig into the pile, you will find lots of little creatures at work, rolly pollies, worms, etc. That's good, because that's what's supposed to happen.

If you want a nice garden, the place to start is by building your soil. No chemical fertilizer has the advantages of home made compost, & it has the added benefit of recycling your food waste, lawn & garden trimmings on site, rather than sending them off to be buried wastefully in a landfill. Composting is the beginning of a beautiful home garden. Start your compost pile this week, a rind is a terrible thing to waste!

By Bob Waldrop

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