Instead of clogging up the landfills, turn yard waste into “gardener’s gold” by composting it.
Constructing a compost container is simple and can save money, according to C.B. Christian, northeast director of the Georgia Master Gardeners Association.
A compost container can be anything from a wire cage to pressure-treated lumber or whatever material you have available. Christian suggests building two 4-by-4-by-3-foot bins side-by-side. Many compost bin designs are available on the UGA Cooperative Extension Web site (ugaextension.com).
Decomposition requires four things: an adequate mix of carbon and nitrogen materials, plenty of air, sufficient moisture and a population of organisms. Place your bins in a full-sun or partial-sun location.
To begin your composting project, start with a six-inch layer of ground leaves, grass clippings, egg shells and any raw vegetable scraps. Next, add an inch of soil and “brown” material like shredded newspaper. If you add manure, make sure it has been aged at least one year to prevent the risk of E. coli contamination.
To jump-start the decomposition process, add a very small amount of ammonium nitrate or any nitrogen-containing fertilizer. To maintain your compost, turn the pile weekly and keep the material moist, but not wet. To attract worms, add vegetable scraps and corn meal.
The finished compost should be an odor-free, ready-to-use amendment for gardens or flower beds. It also can be used as potting soil.