Composting in Colorado

admin September 25, 2010 0

Many people in Denver are considering creating their own compost in order to cut back on landfill additions as well as creating a healthy and sustainable environment for their gardens. Composting is a DIY natural fertilizer method using dead and rotten plants that release carbon and nitrogen for other plants to use.

Composting speeds up the process of decay and reduces Colorado gardeners from the need to buy synthetic fertilizers. It is also an effective means of loosening clay soil as well as helps sandy soil to retain water. Currently, 1/3 of landfills are filled with organic waste from our Denver kitchens and yards. Composting cuts back on the size of landfills and leaves your garden healthy and eco-friendly.

Starting a compost pile requires five ingredients: microorganisms, carbon, nitrogen, moisture and oxygen. You can choose to create a compost pile in an open bin or a closed container but consider rain, rodents, flies, bears, bees, eyesores and ease of mixing. However, you can also test out both ways and see which works best for you.

Your Denver composting pile should comprise of two parts grass clippings/vegetable waste to one part fallen leaves. Some ingredients you can use are: leaves, kitchen scraps (fruit, vegetables, coffee grounds, tea bags), fresh manure (horse, chicken, rabbit, cow), lawn clippings, sawdust, dried grass, straw and cornstalks. Be sure to have a balanced amount of wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Shred large pieces for a quicker breakdown.

Do not include: meat, feces (human, cat or dog), dairy products, diseased plants, plastic and synthetics or weeds.

You will need to aerate your Denver composting pile every couple of weeks by turning the contents with a pitchfork. If it is too dry then add water. Essentially, it should have the same amount of water as a wrung out sponge. If it is too wet then mix in dry material. It is important to have equal amounts of food, water and air.

The inside of the compost should be warm or hot. If it is the same temperature as the outside air then you will need to add some more green material. Compost thermometers are available at your local garden shop and it should be up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Starting a compost pile can take 3-4 weeks before it is ready to use. If your Colorado composting pile is dark and crumbly then it is ready for use in your garden. Autumn in Denver is the perfect time to prepare for next spring by naturally fertilizing gardens with compost before the snow sets in and freezes the ground.

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