Meet Mark Cullen

Canada's best known gardening personality, Mark Cullen believes that Canadians of all ages need to play more - preferably in the dirt. A best-selling author with over 400,000 books in print, Mark reaches over one million Canadians every week through various media outlets. He is Home Hardware's horticultural spokesperson and regularly contributes to various magazines, gardening shows and newsletters. With a familiar style that people can relate to, he delivers a message that is compelling, fun, informative and inspirational - all based on his organic approach to gardening. In his spare time Mark enjoys driving his Ford Model A - and of course he loves to garden.

Composting 2: What to put in and how to keep it going

~ June 22, 2011

If you are composting already or just starting to experiment with it you might ask yourself, “Now that I have set everything up, what do I put in it and how do I keep it going?” The answer is straight forward. As mentioned last week you can compost anything organic except: bones, fish, meat etc.

When adding material to the pile keep in mind the golden ratio of 30:1. That is, 30 parts carbon (the dead ‘brown’ stuff) to 1 part nitrogen, the green stuff. This ratio is ideal for the functioning of the organisms inside the pile. Add the material in alternating thin layers to help speed up decomposition.

Also, as a rule of thumb, try to keep the moisture similar to that of a squeezed out sponge.

When first adding material, the composting rate will be very slow. To help give it a kick start, mix in some Green Earth Compost Accelerator and some fresh manure if available. The manure provides a great infusion of organisms and the accelerator provides key enzymes and nutrients for the organisms to get established.

In the fall add more compost accelerator to keep the process active over the winter.

Your compost will be ready in 3 to 6 months. When it is ready the compost will have a dark brown/black color, crumble easily and smell like earth. Great compost is the consistency of chocolate cake. It will make a dramatic difference to all that you grow.

Try composting: it can save you money, it is good for the environment and it is a lot of fun. Get your kids involved.

p.s. check out my tumbling composter for extra fast results at