Lesson One – Healthy Food Starts with Healthy Soil

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Healthy Food Starts with Healthy Soil

One of the best ways to grow strong healthy plants is to add compost to your soil and it’s super easy! Compost is simply organic matter mixed with decomposing materials.

Examples of compost components include:

coffee grounds • egg shells • vegetable scraps: • apple cores • banana peels • broccoli stems • cabbage cores • carrot or potato peels and greens • fish bones and skin • lettuce cores some decomposable paper products like • tea bags • biodegradable containers • some newspaper ** Do not add meat or dairy products in your compost. No cheese, milk scraps, butter, chicken or beef etc.

You can download our checklist of  Compost  Components here.

The first step is to start saving your food scraps and creating compost.

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The 2 biggest concerns are: where are you going to keep your scraps in your kitchen and where are you going to keep your compost outside.

At our house we use three old enamel pots. They are easy to clean in the rain.

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Simply take your food scraps and put them in the container. Dump your container when it’s full in your compost pile, at least once a week.

So this is assignment number ONE! Start collecting  compost  right now.

Download our checklist of  Compost  Components here.

 

Compost Bin

My favorite anniversary gift Mike ever gave me was for our 14th anniversary ~ our compost bin right outside the kitchen!

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What I love best about this bin is it has removable slats in front that pop out for emptying but hold the dirt snug till the bin has about a foot of good compost or a wheelbarrow full.

 

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In the heart of the season with regular grass clippings Mike and I can make a batch of compost in about 2 weeks but most of the time it takes a couple of months to create a wheelbarrow full.

 

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One of the keys to creating compost is turing it with a pitch fork frequently. And by frequently I mean like once a week or every couple of days. One of the things I love about compost the most is it is very forgiving. It’s just decomposing materials so it just needs to sit there and rot. But the more air you can keep circulating through it the better it is going to come out.

You don’t have to have a fancy wooden bin to keep your compost in. My mom just buries hers in the ground. After she digs a hole, adds her scraps, and covers it with dirt, she puts a brick on top to mark the spot and then she just rotates around a small area about 3 foot wide. My brother keeps his in a little chicken wire pen. Mike has several compost bins down by his mini-farm built out of old pallets.

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As I said, the most essential factor is turning it so it gets lots of air circulating, mixing in bulk materials like grass clippings or fallen leaves, and lots of healthy nutritious food scraps. And don’t worry if your food from the grocery store is not organic it will still mix in just fine.

 

Adding Compost to Your Beds

After you have created a batch of that black gold, you will want to add it to your soil. Mike mixes the compost in to the soil before he plants a bed, and then adds a layer on top before he mulches after the plants have been growing for about 3-4 weeks and he’s done his major weeding. Adding compost eliminates the need to put any kind of chemical fertilizer in your beds and will be your first step to creating an earth friendly environment full of healthy nutrient dense vegetables!

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Manure and Cover Crops

Some people have chickens, horses, cows or farm animals for sources of manure, but you can also purchase manure at your garden supply center. Another way to build your soil is to grow cover crops. To learn more about manure or cover crops sign up for emails for our master organic garden class coming soon.

Lesson One Recap: SOIL Is KEY

  1. Start collecting compost in your kitchen.
  2. Mix the compost together outside with leaves or grass clippings.
  3. Add the compost to your soil.

moving on to Lesson Two – Let’s Get Growing – Define Your Garden Goal

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