About now, compost collections are growing faster than anything else in the garden. All those spent annuals, fallen leaves, and vegetable and fruit scraps are ready to be recycled into rich plant food.
How you choose to compost them can involve a rich assortment of choices.
City gardens need critter-proof compost bins. Rats and skunks see fresh compost as a warm condo plus free lunch.
Plastic bins in which you add compostible stuff at the top and later remove finished compost from a door at the base are about as critter-proof as compost bins can be. They usually have a perforated floor set on earth, so worms and other soil dwellers can help the composting process.
The wooden box bin, often home-made, can have a lid and be lined with wire mesh to stop small animals.
Any vegetable garden can have a temporary chicken-wire surround for fallen leaves to decompose over the winter.
Kitchen scraps can be dug into the vegetable garden. One of the best methods is dumping one compost bucket at a time in one small part of a trench and covering that bit with soil immediately.
Other composting methods include: rotating bins, tumbling bins, spreading vegetable and weeds on paths within a vegetable patch, and the “heap” method (best for rural dwellers, it is simply layering compostibles in a heap in a secluded corner).
Composting rules can be tweaked, depending on garden needs and conditions, but the basic method is always the same: alternating layers of green waste with brown.
Green waste includes veggie and fruit scraps, non-seeded weeds, coffee grounds/tea bags, and grass clippings.
Brown waste includes leaves, dried stems (including pea and bean vines), and straw. Try to get straw that has few or no seeds.
Eggshells can go in the compost if they’ve been dried and crushed.
Things that get you into trouble include: pet poop, cooked food, meat, bones, badly diseased leaves, roots of invasive plants, and anything that’s been subjected to herbicide.
Some things, like corn cobs, break down reluctantly, but chopping them up can hasten the process.