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Composting 101


Composting has been around forever. It's been taking place in forests since time began (if it didn't we'd be buried in leaves after a few years), and folks have been making compost for hundreds of years.


Smith County's Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Agent, Keith Hansen, says folks who compost usually fall into one of three categories: those who pile up leaves, clippings, wood chips, etc. and literally forget about it until perhaps years later; those who want/need it as fast as it can be produced; and the majority of folks in between who will invest some leisure time and energy in producing compost for use in the garden.


There is no right or wrong way to compost -- a pile of leaves, brush or wood chips will break down into unrecognizable organic matter in several years, while the same ingredients can be reduced to compost in just a few weeks by "hot composting." In the end, a gardener will still get a great soil additive for better plant growth.



Some tips on composting:

  • Start with some twigs, small branches or an old wooden pallet to provide some aeration;
  • Use a combination of materials such as leaves (green or dry), grass clippings, green trimmings from shrubs or trees, old bedding plants and kitchen scraps. Avoid using meat or fat products as they will attract unwelcome varmints;
  • Use a spade or fork to turn the compost occasionally;
  • During the dry season or if you notice the center of the pile is dry when turnining, moisten it with a garden hose. Be careful not to get it too wet;
  • For those who Cold Compost (pile it and forget it), some folks like to help the process along by adding some earthworms. If you don't have any in your garden, visit the nearest bait shop and buy a can of worms and drop them in you compost. Please Note: Hot or Active composting may reach 150+ degrees; worms would not survive at these temperatures.

To read more about composting visit the East Texas Gardening web site.

What can you compost

What can go in my compost bin?

    Grass and lawn trimmings


    Leaves and twigs


          Vegetable and fruit peelings, tea bags and Coffee grounds

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