Healthy soil is the basis for any garden, and when it comes to improving soil quality, there is nothing quite like compost, says Martha Stewart Living deputy garden editor Tony Bielaczyc. Compost breaks up the air within and adds nutrients to the soil, helping to improve the ability of plants to retain water and stay healthy during the drier months of summer.
Compost Dos and Don'ts
To make compost, you need a proper mix of "greens" (nitrogen-rich materials) and "browns" (carbon-rich materials). While there is no such thing as a perfect compost blend, the goal is to create a moist material that is the consistency of a damp sponge. Vegetable peelings and kitchen scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, newspaper (torn or shredded), straw, and dried leaves and clippings from the yard are some of the best materials to include in a compost pile. Items such as meat, bones, cheese or dairy products, fatty food waste, pet waste, and cat litter should be avoided.
Maintaining the Compost Pile
A good compost pile is not unlike lasagna: You want to layer and balance the ingredients every time items are added. Compost piles should stay moist and be kept in a sunny spot to allow the microbes to keep moving and growing. If your compost is well-balanced, it will shrink in size dramatically in as little as three days to one week. Once your compost pile has gone down in size by a third or more, flip it over. The compost pile should be ready to use within a single summer's time.
Fiskars Eco Bin Composter available on amazon.com.