The most effective agent for gardeners…

By: 
MARY MESSINA

Since people began growing things to eat and things of beauty, there has existed a quest for the best additive to produce more, stronger and healthier plants. And yet the answer is right in our own homes. Compost and compost tea saves money, improves the environment, and most significantly, produces excellent results in the garden. It is easy and inexpensive to compost. Set four pallets on end to form a box, line them with screen material and tie them together with baling twine. Or, alternatively, drive four metal fence posts in the ground about three feet apart to form a box, and fasten chicken wire on the outside. Now the composting can begin.
Layer greens and browns (see below) about four inches thick. There should be no odor, no unwanted animals attracted and little maintenance except to turn with a pitchfork or rake occasionally. Any kitchen scraps can be used except for meat, dairy products, fat or grease. Don’t use pet feces, diseased plants or treated grass. Your trash will be reduced by 30 percent, and your growing things will thrive on the finished product.
If there is an odor, the pile needs oxygen, so turn it with a garden fork. Otherwise, in a few months, the bottom of the pile will be wonderful black, airy soil teeming with microbes that will enrich your soil. (Compost tea is created by taking a coffee can amount of compost, putting it in a cloth bag, and submerging it in water for a few days. See YouTube for compost tea instructions and results.)

Greens (nitrogen filled), moist
Manures – horse, chicken
food scraps
grass
vegetables
coffee grounds & filter / tea bags
egg shells
fruit waste
Browns (carbon), dry
straw dry leaves dry grass paper/chip board/newspaper
dryer lint corncobs (best cut up) & stalks wood shavings
Don’t forget to visit the “Ask A Gardener” booth at the Farmers Market every first and third Saturday for answers to all your gardening questions.

Mary Messina is a Master Gardener who gardens southeast of Lewistown. If you would like to know more about a specific topic, email your ideas to her at mmessina@midrivers.com.

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