By Darbie M. Granberry
University of Georgia
With a little time and effort, thousands of conservation- minded people are making compost from coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable trimmings, leaves, grass clippings and brush trimmings.
They can then apply this compost to the landscape or garden. This improves the soil's structure, enhances its fertility and provides nutrients that help plants grow better and produce more.
So many benefits
Home composting is a win-win proposition for homeowners, landscape and garden plants and the environment.
The amount of compost a vegetable garden needs depends mainly on the soil type and how you garden. But usually, it's best to add 20 to 30 pounds of compost per 100 square feet of garden area each year.
These amounts don't cause a problem for people with small gardens. However, many gardeners with larger gardens find they can't produce enough compost from their kitchen and yard waste.
If you're not making enough compost, what can you do?
First, keep on composting. And keep on applying the compost to your garden, even if you can't apply the full recommended rate. When it comes to compost in the garden, a good rule-of-thumb is that some is much better than none.
If your neighbors aren't composting, they may be happy to donate their kitchen and yard waste to your composting project. With that extra organic matter, you might be able to double or triple the amount of compost you can make. This may be all the compost you need.
If you still don't have enough, it's probably time to consider supplementing your homemade compost with some made by someone else.
One possible source is a local municipality. Many cities and counties now compost organic materials collected locally and make the compost available at little or no cost to local citizens.
Since they don't usually deliver the compost, you'll need a pickup truck or trailer to transport it. You can find out whether local municipal compost is available by contacting the county or city government or your University of Georgia Extension Service county office.
Another possible source is a commercial composter. And there may be one near you. With the proper training and equipment, a professional composter can provide excellent compost at a reasonable price.
As an added benefit, some of them will deliver compost to you. If you're interested in getting commercial compost and don't know a local source, your Georgia Extension Service county office may be able to help.
(Darbie Granberry is an extension horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
(Darbie Granberry is a Cooperative Extension horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences)