If you're like me, you try to buy local, organic and farm-fresh foods. Now with budgets tightening and food costs increasing, you're likely looking for ways to save money while still staying healthy. We have two words for you: Compost Gardening.
Compost gardening involves two things that you may or may not already be doing. As the name suggests, compost your left-over foods and produce scraps, and then grow your own garden. After all, what's more organic and local that that?!
Start your compost garden
To get started composting you'll need to do a few things:
- Get a compost bin, like this one, if you have the space or opt for a smaller version for apartment living. Of course, you can always use a plain ol' garbage bag, but sometimes they don't seal out odors as well
- Research. There are many different ways to compost, and they usually don't involve just throwing whatever leftovers you have into a big pile. There's a science to it that's rather complicated but here are some of the basics from North Carolina State University stated by Extension Horticultural Specialist, Larry Bass:"Bags (or bins) should be alternatively filled with plant wastes, fertilizer and lime. About one tablespoon of a garden fertilizer with a high nitrogen content should be used per bag. Lime (one cup per bag) helps counteract the extra acidity caused by anaerobic composting. After filling, add about a quart of water. Close tightly. Set aside."
Read more on his article here.
- Be patient. Composting requires time. Some recommend waiting six months to a year until your compost has reached the desired level of fertilization. Others say only a few months. Some suggest running the compost through a chipper or shredder (note that this is a loud, messy process) but that probably won't work unless you a). have your own shredder and b). don't live around neighbors! Either way, it's not going to happen over night, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't start!
Planting in your compost garden
To plant a garden (if you don't already have one) that you can then fertilize with your compost, here's what you need to do:
- Plant to save money. Think about what fruits and veggies your family eats the most of — or what they WOULD eat if it came for "free" from their back yard! Since compost is basically fertilizer, it will typically serve a number of plants and vegetation well.
- Keep in mind what grows in your area. Squash and members of the cucumber family typically grow well in compost, but given your location, climate, etc. they may not be the best choices.Be patient (again). Gardening requires time as well to allow the plants to grow. But that doesn't mean you can't plant seeds today — and get your compost started — for money saving and preparing delicious food down the line.
More gardening information:
Money-saving tips for gardeners
Eco-friendly gardening practices
How to garden and grow plants indoors