Written By: Tucker Eldridge
When growing our medicine organically at home, spending large sums of money on expensive bottled organic nutrients can begin adding the bills up quickly. This, along with making sure our medicine is safely produced, is precisely the reason we begin growing for ourselves in the first place. This means that if we have the opportunity to use waste products from around the house to improve the health and vitality of our garden, we should exercise that opportunity to the fullest extent. This article will outline some of the ways we can convert our at home waste into usable nutrition for our plants to thrive from.
We can start in our front lawn. Every time we mow, we take dozens of pounds of nitrogen rich grass clippings and throw them in the trash. These clippings can be composted with soil and root mass from past grows to form nitrogen rich soils that can be added as a top dress or cut in when transplanting to increase vegetative growth. You can generally use most of your garden plant waste as a high nitrogen nutrient source for your compost pile. You can use things like root mass and crushed plant stems as a carbon source, and things like chicken, cow, and horse manure offer a wide array of complex nutrients for your plant to take advantage of. Just remember, when creating a healthy compost pile there are a couple of things we must remember to ensure the successful decomposition of our pile as well as to protect the viability of as much of the micro life within our compost as possible. Keeping a compost pile moist, but not soggy, helps encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria within the compost pile, which will aid plant growth when the compost is used with the plants. It also speeds the composting process and will allow you access to your home made compost more quickly. A healthy warm compost pile breaks down more readily than a soggy cold pile devoid of life and oxygen. My preferred method for adding oxygen deep into the pile is a breather tube. There are many variations of this, but the basic premise is that you are inserting a thick tube down into the bottom of your pile and using this tube to introduce oxygen deep down into the pile. The reason I prefer this method to the traditional turning of a compost pile is that fungal strands in their early stages of life can be particularly fragile, and the constant agitation of your pile inhibits their ability to grow at their full capacity. The last thing we want to remember about our compost pile is that we want to avoid the addition of any meat or dairy products, as they attract unwanted pests and bacteria to our pile. These inputs come primarily from the one other place in your home where prime nutrition is being tossed away, in the kitchen.
In the kitchen, we produce a tremendous amount of waste through a myriad of processes. From cooking, to reading the newspaper, to opening junk mail, we end up with a lot of leftover waste that ends up in the trash. But with the proper means, we can convert this waste into a highly nutritious soil amendment to improve the growth and health of our plants, all while reducing the amount of waste we contribute to landfills. This can be done through the simple process of vermicomposting. A small vermicompost bin would consist of a small bin full of worms to which you could add your kitchen waste. Worms would eat the waste and convert it to nutrient and microbe rich vermicompost, an organic soil additive with tremendous potential to improve plant health and vitality. Chopped up plant waste from fruits and veggies provides their primary food source, and provides a broad spectrum of nutrients in our vermicompost. Shredded newspaper provides them with bedding, as well as providing a rich source of carbon for your final amendment. You can also add things like used coffee grounds, crushed up egg shells, and dried up or moldy bread to even further diversify your nutrient content of your vermicompost and once your earth worm bin is producing rich healthy castings, you can use them for a broad spectrum of beneficial applications. These include: top dressing your pots or flower beds, mixing it into your soil when transplanting, and brewing teas to be used in water in and foliar applications. The uses for your home made lawn compost, and your home made kitchen vermicompost are extensive, and making them allows you to turn your daily waste into quality organic medicine.