Getting the Most From Compost

The Turn of the Wheel has come again, as the earth slumbers, rejuvenating herself in preparation for rebirth in Spring. We gardeners have enjoyed a respite from our Summer chores, once again planning for new challenges and triumphs for the year.

We, as Earth exalting Witches, have in our powers, the knowledge and tools to give back something to our Mother earth, for all she has given to us.

With the human population of the Earth increasing daily, so do the waste products of our population. Landfills are becoming filled at a rapid rate, in most of which, the reuse will take eons to decompose, if it does at all. We can do our part by trying to recycle as much as we can.

Composting is an easy way to help, and the benefits of all of us and our planet are remarkable. We can fertilize our plants and gardens without the use of damaging chemicals, beneficial both to our bodies, and Mother Earth. You don't have a garden you say? You can still compost — give it to a gardener. They would greatly appreciate some free compost, and I would bet they would return the favor with some fresh, homegrown vegetables for your table.

To get started, you need an old, plastic trash can with lid (any size will do), something to puncture holes in the trash can with, a little water and some refuse. Save your vegetable remnants from making a salad, vegetables that have "gone bad" from staying in the fridge too long — throw them into the compost. Piles of leaves in the Fall, grass clippings, dead plants? All make great compost.

First you need to puncture some holes in the trash can for aeration and drainage. It is important that the holes be of good size for proper aeration and decomposition to occur. Some along the sides and on the bottom of the can will suffice. I would suggest the can stay outside, as the decomposing matter will produce quite an aroma! After you have filled the can by layering the materials, sprinkle the contents with water, and turn the can several times to stir things up, then let nature do her work. I suggest turning the trash can daily for a few weeks, to keep things well aerated. You will notice liquid draining from the can — this is pure, liquid fertilizer. This may also be used as fertilizer, but please dilute the solution 1-10 parts, as the nitrogen contained therein will burn, killing your plants.

After a few weeks, the mass you started will noticeably shrink, a sign of decomposition. Keep turning the compost a few times a week at this point, making sure the contents stay damp, but not wet. If your compost becomes too dry, just add water.

The composting process should take a few months to occur, depending upon how warm or cool your weather is. You will know when your compost is ready, it will have a pleasant, earthy scent, and the appearance is that of loose, rich, black/brown soil. From here, you may add it to your soil or houseplants as fertilizer, or use it as mulch — Mother Earth and your plants will greatly appreciate it!

As a final note: I would not recommend using meat or animal products in your compost because the decomposing animal matter will produce an exceptionally disagreeable odor. You can add cow, horse, sheep, or chicken manure to help speed the decomposition process.

I am a firm believer in composting, having done so at my home for many years. I always notice healthier plants and increased yields from my flower and vegetable gardens. It makes me feel good, knowing that I am giving back to the Goddess, in return for all of the blessings she has bestowed upon me. Happy Gardening!

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