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Composting Class

COMPOSTING

We have developed the content and format of a back yard composting workshop in 2014. The workshops was designed to be 5 hours with comprehensive and in-depth discussions of soil, composting benefits and techniques and the impact of gardening. The workshop was first delivered to City of Calgary employees, modified based on their feedback and then an other session was delivered later in the Spring. Two subsequent sessions were scheduled but, due to inclement weather, were postponed and will be offtered in the Spring of 2015. Participants received a free compost turner from Lee Valley Tools.

With the support of Society volunteers, the CBC Do-Crew, and a grant from TD Friends of the Environment, three large-size demonstration compost bins were constructed in an education workshop this Spring. These were built in the demonstration and teaching garden onsite on site of the CHS garden. Additional Yard Smart modifications were also completed, such as redirecting downspouts for use with rain barrels. Angelia Knight, Co-host of the Calgary EyeOpener on CBC Radio and Do-Crew Volunteer Team Leader, was onsite for the work in the garden. Angela Knight interviewed Kath Smyth (workshop leader) and Janet Melrose, CHS Horticulturalist and Garden Animator, about the compost building project and the benefits of composting.

Composting

Creating and using compost from your organic waste is a natural way to fertilize your garden and build healthy soil.

Why compost?

  • When you start using compost, soil holds water better and discourages weeds. Your gardens and lawns become less dependent on chemicals and become more nutrient-rich.
  • It's also a great way to cut your weekly garbage load almost in half and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the landfill.
  • Healthy composted soil will help your plants stay healthy and help keep water in the soil.

What are the basic steps to composting?

  • Organic material is divided in to "Greens" (nitrogen rich) and "Browns" (carbon rich). Green materials are usually moist like your fruit and veggie scraps, fresh grass clippings or fresh fallen leaves. Brown materials are dried like dry brown leaves or dry grass clippings.
  • You will need to add one-part greens for every part of browns to build a balanced compost heap. It is recommended by some that you layer your greens and browns. However, as long as the ratio is one-part green materials to one- part brown materials, it is not necessary to layer the material as you will be turning the pile mixing these two types of materials anyhow.
  • Add water. Effective composting requires moisture. Add water when you first start your compost pile and each time you turn your pile. The compost pile should be as moist as a wrung out sponge to be composting effectively.
  • Turn your pile with a compost aerating tool, pitchfork or shovel every couple of weeks during the growing season to provide an adequate air supply.

When is it ready?

Your composted material is ready to use when it has an "earthy" smell

How do I use compost?

Compost is not a soil. It is a soil amendment that will add organic matter, microbes and nutrients to your soil. Typically the ratio for use is one-part compost to three - parts soil.