Duane Friend who is one of the U of I Extension Office’s foremost experts on backyard composting says that late fall is a great time to begin the process. Friend says in order to get a good compost product to use in your garden you need to have the right starting material and you need to manage the pile closely. “You can’t just go out and rake up a bunch of leaves and throw it in a pile and hope it’s going to compost. You really have to have a good blend of green material, brown material, and putting the bacteria in there to really break everything up. It’s all organic material, but what you’re trying to get to is a fairly stable type of organic matter that you can put into the soil of your garden and get good things to come out of it.”
Good carbon sources include leaves, straw and sawdust. Sources of nitrogen can come from cow and horse manure, vegetable scraps and green plants. Adding garden soil to the compost mix provides the microbes needed to get things going. Friend says to start with layering products into alternating patterns of brown and green materials.
Friend says the seminar this Thursday will deal with these basics along with troubleshooting problems that may arise in the process. “The seminar is this Thursday evening from 6-7:30PM at the Extension Office here in Jacksonville. We will talk about what materials to use, something called carbon-nitrogen ratio, and troubleshooting. There is times you may do a compost pile and then you start getting odors out of it, critters get into it, and we’ll talk about what to do to keep that from happening.”
To register for the class, you can either call the U of I Extension office at 217-243-7424, or you can register online at http://go.illinois.edu/decomposing .