Spring Clean Up

"better compost" by normanackWith spring on the way it is time to think about cleaning up your containers and arrangements. Each season, as you change out your displays, you will be left with waste to dispose of. There are a few ways you can use this waste to your advantage. One excellent way to repurpose spent plants is compost. Not only does compost get rid of the waste, but it creates usable material to help the growth of  your new arrangements.

Starting Your Pile

To get started you must choose how you will contain a compost pile. This can be as simple as a pile on the ground, chicken wire around stakes or as high tech as a purchased large plastic tumbler on a stand. The advantages of the plastic tumblers is they can be turned easily and are less unsightly than a pile on the ground. There are also advantages to piles. According to HowToCompost.org, a greater surface area will encourage faster breakdown of the pile into compost. A pile on the ground can have a much greater surface area.

Making Compost

Once you have chosen how you will house your compost pile there are a few simple rules to follow to make compost. Compost can be complicated and there are volumes written about how compost works and how to make compost that is exactly suited to your desires. However, making compost can also be very simple and result in good, rich, multi-purpose growing media.

Compost requires a balance of green and brown materials to create a healthy soil. Examples of green materials are food scraps and plants. Brown materials include shredded newspaper, cardboard and dried leaves. You will also want to add a shovel full of dirt, when you start the compost pile. This will introduce the healthy microorganisms that break down the waste into compost.

Compost is formed by organic matter decomposing, this requires and generates heat, and requires oxygen. Compost works fastest and maintains the correct temperature and oxygen flow when turned often. The more often you turn the compost pile the faster it will decompose.  The right amount of moisture is also necessary for your compost pile.  The pile should be moist but not wet. Each time you add a new layer make sure it is a little bit moist.

It is also a good idea to have more than one compost bin or pile. While one compost pile is actively decomposing you can add new materials to the alternate pile. This will help your compost break down faster and you will have more compost readily available when you need it.

What to Leave Out

There are a few things you should leave out of your compost.  It is important to avoid adding any plants to your compost pile that have had herbicide or pesticide applications. These chemicals can linger in the compost and cause damage to plants that grow in the compost. Never put meat scraps, things with oil in them or pet waste in the compost pile. This will attract unwanted pests and spread disease.

If you would prefer not to maintain your own compost pile there are many municipalities that have composting sites. You can drop of the waste from your containers and often times you can pick of compost for free or a small fee.

Composting can be a fun way to cut back on waste that otherwise would have gone into the landfill. It also provides a useful tool for your container arrangements. You will most likely have to add some perlite to your compost to allow for more drainage as compost can be very dense. Your potting media will be rich in nutrients and result in healthy, happy container grown plants. If you are looking for new containers to start the new season browse NewPro Containers outdoor collection.

Have you composted? What methods have you used? How have you modified it for your container arrangements?

Photo “better compost” courtesy normanack

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