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Return to Your Roots. Compost!

Neither snow, nor sleet, nor rain will stop an avid person who loves to compost.  Indeed, this year many North Americans had their share of all three. There were times when my backyard composter was completely buried in snow.

If you are already familiar with composting, you will know that during the winter, the cycle slows down and your compostlogo2unit will fill up faster. As soon as the temperature rises, the pile heats up and the ice helps break down the material. The volume will then decrease, allowing the cycle to begin again. If you add a thin layer of soil and mix all the material together, your pile’s decomposition will speed up.

With April’s being Earth Month, it is time to join the Green Wave of Recycling, if you have not done so already. You don’t have to be a dedicated or expert gardener to create your own compost. The organics required are part of the garden and kitchen scraps that you discard every day. The composting process also requires air, moisture, and a little soil; nature does the rest.

Your composter should be situated in a sunny, airy spot away from standing water. A bottom layer of brush cuttings will ensure a good flow of air.  You are now ready to add fruit and vegetable peelings, pasta, eggshells, coffee grounds and tea bags. As the heap should be slightly damp, include unwanted beverages and water from rinsing pots. Avoid adding foods that do not decompose quickly or may cause odors such as meat, bones, dairy products and vegetable oils. With every container of kitchen organics you deposit, toss in a handful of dry yard trimmings. Wet “greens” from your kitchen add nitrogen, whereas dry “browns” provide the carbon. You can also include cooled wood ashes, old plants, sawdust from untreated wood, ripped cardboard, feathers, bits of natural cotton, string, rope, flowers, pet fur and hair clippings. A rule of thumb is – if it was once alive, it can be composted. Earthworms, sow bugs, mites, beetles and all those compost critters will visit your pile and turn it into rich compost.

It is not necessary to turn your heap regularly; however if you do, it will work much faster. Soil should be added occasionally to act as an odor suppressor as well as to introduce more microorganisms, which speed up the decomposition process.

Composting has many benefits. Besides reducing what you put out at curbside by 30%, composting produces a ORGANIC-COMPOSTvaluable soil amendment. It will rejuvenate plant and root growth, and suppress plant disease. Compost improves resistance to wind and water erosion. It slows down the release of nutrients, improves soil porosity and helps your garden’s water-holding capacity. Another bonus will be a reduction of your gardening water bill.

Historians have discovered through official state correspondence that early American presidents appreciated the fertile land and its preservation through composting.  When one understands and shares the benefits of compost, it is amazing that we ever allowed this knowledge to slip away.

April is a good month to return to our roots.

Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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