I just started gardening this year. I also started a compost pile for the first time. I would love tips on composting from people with more experience. Specific questions I have are:
I started my compost pile in a plastic garbage can, with holes cut in the sides for ventilation. Started with a bag of organic compost, then have been adding my own vegetable scraps. The thing is overrun with fruit flies now! They're a total menace!
How long does it take for the stuff to break down and become good compost for the garden? Should I just leave it to break down all winter, then mix it up and spread it in the garden in spring?
sorry if compost has been done to death, but I'm new and I'd love more discussion on it!
Avoid non-breathable containers, such as plastic bags. You can't make enough holes in a plastic bag to provide adequate air, without simultaneously weakening the bag too much. good compost will also start decomposing even plastic bags. use slatted wood, chicken wire, welded wire, or just a pile with soil or compost on top to keep the light stuff from blowing away.
Believe it or not, I grew corn, my first time, and it actually worked.
I could use some advice on asparagus, thought. I planted it and this year have beautiful, feathery green plants. I know real asparagus won't pop up for a year or two. But how do I treat my asparagus plants in the meantime, in the winter?
I will feel much better about composting a rotten apple or mushy zucchini that was forgotten, than just throwing it away.
Yes, your leftover coffee grounds are good to put in there. I would recommend cutting banana peels into pieces before putting in there so that they break down faster. If you use eggs, the shells can go in there, but there should be no other animal products that would have the oils in there. Any plant matter is fair game. Usually, if you keep the ratio of the relatively drier brown and green matter, like leaves and stuff, right you can keep the flies and gnats from getting too bad. You just watch the moisture level in the compost as it cooks to make sure it doesn't get too wet. If it does, then just add some more leaves or lawn clippings or whatever you have. The lasagna compost is a good idea, but it just takes longer to make than that which you mix and turn often. It's more for the type of person who likes "lazy" gardening that doesn't require as much effort. Great if you have a small garden, only a small compost pile, or lots of room for several piles. We have three households putting compost into one garden, so the tumbler idea works well for us. I think they were a bit expensive, though. Oh, and I agree that you gotta have earthworms. They do most of the work and let you know your pile is healthy. We have never used lime on ours.
Frenchie, if you have produce that is going to go bad, you can always juice it or put it in the blender and then freeze it. I make "green ice" by putting my leafy greens in the blender with some water and then pouring it into ice cube trays for smoothies.
I'm I the tropics too. I use a small chipper for all garden waste and I chip the leftover from food prep as well. The pile is on some scrap land about 30 meters from the house as it attracts rats which attracts snakes.