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I grew up in a urban area, with a yard made up mostly of dirt. My mother always had gardens growing, though, and everything from green beans to strawberries to lilacs peppered the dull dirt yard with color. What always intrigued me about gardening as a child, however, was not to be found anywhere in the many garden retreats of my childhood home, but at the edge of the woods behind my grandmother’s house. Every summer, as we ate our grilled meals with watermelon and berries, things were selectively discarded separately from the other garbage. These rinds and peels made their way out to that pile in the edge of the woods soon after dinner, adding to the compost heap that would eventually become the top soil for my grandmother’s flowers.

As the world becomes increasingly more aware and concerned about environmental issues such as waste disposal and renewable resources, composting is not something that is just confined to suburban homes with woodsy backyards. In fact, some experts predict that within ten years, composting will become as common a source of recycling as recycling aluminum cans or glass bottles. One reason that this does not seem unfeasible is the sheer simplicity of composting as a part of daily household routine. Using kitchen and yard waste to create compost that can be used to create a healthier lawn or garden around your home is a practical way to reuse waste from your home and also save money at the same time.

Essentially, composting is a way of aiding the decomposition process of formerly living plants and organisms that will eventually become part of the soil and add nutrients to the other plants around them. There are some basic necessities for your compost pile or bin. Like any living organism, your compost pile needs ample space for air and it also thrives on water. Microbes that aid in the decomposition process also work quicker when the compost pile is hot, but any temperature above about fifty degrees Fahrenheit can sustain a compost pile.

There are two basic categories of compost. One is green, and the other brown. The best compost piles are a good balance of both green and brown. Green is things like grass clippings, fruit or vegetable leftovers, coffee grinds, and other kitchen waste. Brown compost is things like wood chips, sawdust, dry leaves, and things of that nature. Brown compost may need to be watered before being mixed in to the compost pile. Grass clippings, kitchen waste, not pernicious weeds, hay, wood chips, and other yard waste make great additions to any compost pile. There are things that you should not compost, like chemically treated wood products, weeds, or diseased plants, meat, bones, and human or pet waste. The best way to think of this process is as creating a healthy diet for the microbes that are creating this compost for you. If you meet their ideal conditions, you will get a great final product that will meet your gardening needs.

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