Make Your Backyard an Example of Soil Conservation

8 Jun

Hope you enjoyed World Environment Day!  Any WED stories you’d like to share?

This week we thought we’d focus on a more obvious form of conservation – backyard composting.  Keeping our soil nutrient rich is very important in this age of mono-crops and heavy pesticide use.

If you’d like more info on the current state of our soil – check out a documentary called Dirt.

Do your part to enrich the soil by composting your food and yard scraps.  Here’s a few tips from Adria Vasil in Ecoholic Home:

Nova Scotians have it right. Out east it’s illegal to throw an apple core or any other food scraps in the garbage, since there’s a better place for them: the composter. Of course, if your town isn’t as ecologically enlightened and hasn’t started picking up compostables door to door (yes, they do that in other cities!), then you might want to set your own backyard example. A third of the trash we put at the curb is actually food waste: stuff that just ends up rotting and creating toxic gases in land fill when it can easily be turned into nutrient-rich compost. Just get yourself a bin from your local garden centre, green store or hardware store (either a rotating one, a regular plastic one with a lid and air holes, or a wooden one), place it on a level spot in a corner of your yard, then get started.

  • Feed me, Seymour: You’ll want to feed your compost equal layers of green stuff (food scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, house-plants) and brown stuff (dry grass clippings, dry leaves, straw, a few wood chips). Unless you want to encourage raccoon break-ins, keep meat and fish, dairy products, peanut butter and fats out. Diseased plants, cat lifter and weeds (like crabgrass) should be left out too.
  • Create a layer cake: Start by laying down a layer of twigs or coarse material, then a io-centimetre layer of browns, followed by a 10-centimeter layer of greens, then a thin layer of soil. Continue alternating layers, stir it up every couple of weeks, and you should have good compost within a few months.
  • Problem solving: Weird smells? Compost MIA? That means you/ve been putting in too much of one layer or another.  For troubleshooting tips, check out Cornell’s Department of Crop and Soil Science’s handy chart.

(photo from Richmond.ca)

Any pro gardeners out there?  Tell us about how you use your compost!

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