How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System: Secrets and Techniques You Need to Know to Grow the Best Vegetables

How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System: Secrets and Techniques You Need to Know to Grow the Best Vegetables

by Kelly Smith

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Overview

Some of the best fertilizer on the planet can be made with your very own garbage. Starting with something as simple as coffee grounds a top composting product and including all of your old banana peels, bread crusts, and leftover meals, you can start creating a garden with your food waste from scratch, using the age old secret of composting to build a healthy, happy garden. Knowing the necessary steps to building and cultivating a compost bin will help anyone with a garden no matter its size cut down on waste, save money on fertilizer, and have fun learning more about the cycle all biodegradable matter goes through.

This book provides a detailed outline of how anyone with a little extra space and a garden can start composting today to build their garden from scratch into a thriving jungle of roots, herbs, and vegetables. You will learn about all of the different ways that composting can be helpful to you, as well as the different reasons why people choose to compost and what you and your vegetables might best benefit from when you decide to make the leap and start composting yourself. You will learn how decomposition works and what the ideal conditions are for decomposition. You will learn which compostable materials are around you right now, from the coffee grounds in your coffee maker to the old fruit in your crisper. Learn about the different kinds of activators and how they get the process started as well as the different composting materials used by home gardeners and professional composters alike dozens of which have been interviewed for this book.

You will be walked through the process of recognizing and using the end product as effectively as possible. You will be walked through how you can effectively take your end product and start using it for various different vegetable types in your garden. Finally, you will be walked through the process of recognizing and using the end product as effectively as possible. For anyone who has ever considered composting as a viable means by which to feed their gardens, this book is for you.

Atlantic Publishing is a small, independent publishing company based in Ocala, Florida. Founded over twenty years ago in the company president’s garage, Atlantic Publishing has grown to become a renowned resource for non-fiction books. Today, over 450 titles are in print covering subjects such as small business, healthy living, management, finance, careers, and real estate. Atlantic Publishing prides itself on producing award winning, high-quality manuals that give readers up-to-date, pertinent information, real-world examples, and case studies with expert advice.  Every book has resources, contact information, and web sites of the products or companies discussed.

This Atlantic Publishing eBook was professionally written, edited, fact checked, proofed and designed. The print version of this book is 288 pages and you receive exactly the same content. Over the years our books have won dozens of book awards for content, cover design and interior design including the prestigious Benjamin Franklin award for excellence in publishing. We are proud of the high quality of our books and hope you will enjoy this eBook version.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620230138
Publisher: Atlantic Publishing Company FL
Publication date: 09/28/2015
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 529,160
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Why Compost? 11

Chapter 1 Let us begin with the Basics 15

What is Composting? 15

How Composting Benefits your Garden 16

How Composting Benefits the Environment 20

Common Myths About Composting 22

About This Book 24

Chapter 2 Getting Started 27

Types of Compost Systems 28

Compost heaps or pile 28

Compost bins 29

Holes or trenches 30

Cone digester systems 32

Rotating or tumbling barrels 32

Stationary bins 32

Indoor systems 33

How Big is a Compost Pile? 33

Choosing a System 34

Can I compost? 35

What kind of system can I afford? 36

Where will the compost system go? 36

Are there local ordinances to account for? 38

What Can I Compost? 41

Yard and garden waste 42

Kitchen and household waste 47

Food items to compost 49

Non-food items to compost 50

Other sources of compost material 54

Materials to Avoid Composting 55

Organic materials 55

Non-organic materials 62

Activators 62

Natural activators 64

Artificial activators 70

Preparing Waste for Composting 71

Composting weeds 72

Case Study 74

Chapter 3 The Science of Composting 77

Essential Composting Elements 78

Oxygen 78

Moisture 81

Carbon 82

Nitrogen 82

Organisms 84

The Chemical Process of Decomposition 87

Slow compost systems 90

Medium compost systems 90

Fast compost systems 91

Case Study 92

Chapter 4 Outdoor Compost Bins 95

Do it Yourself 96

Cardboard box composting 96

Wire bin composting 97

Trash can composting 99

Trench composting 101

Trench composting in a dry environment 104

Wood trench composting 107

Hole or pit composting 109

Straw or hay bale compost piles 110

Concrete block compost bin 112

Three-bin composting 114

Build a tumbling barrel composter 119

Commercial Outdoor Compost Bins 133

Tumbling bins 134

Stationary bins 135

Digesters 137

Case Study 138

Chapter 5 Building a Compost Pile 141

Tools for Digging and Raking 141

Shovels or garden spades 142

Hoes 142

Rakes 143

Forks 143

Mattocks 144

Post-hole diggers 144

Tools for Storing and Moving Compost 145

Tools for Cutting 146

Knife 146

Scissors 146

Hammer 146

Machete 147

Compost Maintenance Tools 147

Thermometer 147

Watering tools 148

Aerators 148

Safety Equipment 149

Gloves 149

Dust masks 149

Goggles 150

Ear protection 150

Compost Ingredients 150

How do I know if I have the right ratio? 151

Slow or Cool Compost 152

Medium or Warm Compost 153

Supplies and tools 153

Instructions 154

Fast or Hot Compost 155

Supplies and tools 155

Instructions 156

Sheet Compost 157

Leaf Mold Compost 157

Case Study 159

Chapter 6 Maintaining a Compost Bin 163

Aerating a Stationary Bin 164

Aerating an Outdoor Bin or Heap 164

Watering 166

When is Compost Ready to Use? 168

Case Study 170

Chapter 7 Using Compost 171

Where to Use Compost 173

Healthy Soil Leads to Healthy Produce 174

Preparing Compost for Use 176

Testing for pH levels 177

Making a Compost Sifter 180

Supplies and tools 180

Instructions 181

Making Compost Tea 184

How to use compost tea 186

Case Study 187

Chapter 8 Vermicomposting 189

Worms - Nature's Own Compost Machine 191

Worm physiology 195

Worm species 197

Buying your worms 199

Worm Bins 199

Buying a worm bin 199

Making your own worm bin 200

Filling the worm bin 203

What to Feed (and Not Feed) Your Worms 205

Harvesting the castings 210

How to Make Worm Tea 212

Supplies and Tools 213

Instructions 213

Using worm tea 213

Troubleshooting a Worm Bin 214

Where to Use Vermicompost 219

Case Study 220

Chapter 9 Winter and Indoor Composting 223

Winter Worm Bins? 223

Indoor Composting 226

Pros and cons of indoor composting 226

Indoor trash bag composting 227

Commercial Indoor Compost Bins 228

Non-electric indoor systems 229

Electric systems 230

Case Study 232

Chapter 10 Troubleshooting 233

Diseases 233

Farmer's lung 234

Histoplasmosis 234

Legionnaires' disease 235

Paronychia 235

Tetanus 236

Toxoplasmosis 236

Common Compost Problems and Solutions 237

Problems with Neighbors 240

How to Start a Community Composting Group 242

Case Study 246

Conclusion 249

Appendix A More Information on Vermicomposting 253

Vermicomposting Supplies 254

Appendix B Where to Purchase Composting Items 255

Where to Buy Compost Systems Mentioned in this Book 255

Appendix C The Composting Community 257

Informational Sites 258

Community Sites 262

Glossary 267

Bibliography 277

Index 285

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System: Secrets and Techniques You Need to Know to Grow the Best Vegetables 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Nickelini on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you think you want to start composting, but feel overwhelmed and don¿t know where to start, this book is for you. This book is also for you if you already compost, but you¿re wondering if you¿re doing it right, or if there is anything else you should be doing. I fall into the second group¿I grew up in a household where we composted, and I¿ve always composted since I¿ve had my own house. But I¿m a rather lazy composter, and for the most part I just dump my fruit and vegetable scraps and yard waste into the bins. Every year or so I dig out what I¿ve made, and I have to admit I find it rather mesmerizing to dig through the pile. With Kelly Smith¿s help, I¿ve learned why some of my composting techniques didn¿t work so well and others turned out great. And I now know that I have to give the pile a big stir every now and again. I also really enjoyed the information on worms. Lots of clear information, step-by-step guides for those starting out, and an extensive trouble-shooting section. The book has both a very helpful table of contents and an index. This would make a great housewarming gift for a first-time home buyer.
travelvic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As the `green¿ movement moves to mainstream life, many people ask the question, `What more can I do to reduce my carbon footprint and help the environment?¿ Enter composting! Author Kelly Smith gives the `whys¿, `hows¿, and `wheres¿ in her new book (which is printed on recycled paper), ¿How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System: Secrets and Techniques You Need to Know to Grow the Best Vegetables¿. ¿How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System¿ is an organized and comprehensive discussion on all things compostable. Smith begins by introducing the beginner to the subject with vivid descriptions and lots of possibilities. The benefits as well as potential issues are also discussed as well as myths and answers to a myriad of questions. She also gives plenty of options that range from the inexpensive set ups to store bought systems. Sidebar articles from people who compost regularly are also included to give readers various viewpoints on the subject. Further, the extensive appendices offer helpful sources for additional reading, finding others in your community that also compost, a glossary of terms, and places to purchase composting items. I found the book to be exceptionally thorough on what goes into composting. There was probably more than I¿ve ever thought I¿d want to know but reading from the perspective of someone with no background or knowledge on the subject, it was a perfect introduction. Smith¿s clear descriptions as well as her pictures assisted greatly in understanding what exactly she was trying to convey while her obvious passion got me excited about starting a compost pile of my own. I especially liked the included building plans for an enclosed system; I think this is something many people - who wouldn¿t otherwise want an open pile of decaying matter in their yard - would be extremely interested in having. She not only takes the concept of `living green¿ into account but aesthetics as well. Good for the environment, less garbage trucked to landfills, readymade fertilizer for your garden ¿ these are all benefits from the simple act of composting. Large yard or small plot and even no yard at all, ¿How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System: Secrets and Techniques You Need to Know to Grow the Best Vegetables¿ gives you the down and dirty on how to get started and do your part!Reviewed by Vicki Landes, author of ¿Europe for the Senses ¿ A Photographic Journal¿
code7r More than 1 year ago
The Back to Basics Growing series is published by Atlantic Publishing Group. One of the titles in this series is “How to Build, Maintain and Use a Compost System: Secrets and Techniques You Need to Know to Grow the Best Vegetables” and it is written by Kelly Smith. Ms. Smith’s previous books have dealt with quilting, so I was intrigued on how much knowledge she would impart on composting, which is nothing like quilting. She definitely showed that she does know a thing or two about composting! She starts off by explaining what composting is and why people do it. In Chapter 1 she includes some “Common Myths About Composting,” such as: composting is difficult, it smells bad, isn’t for people who live in a city, you can use any type of worm if vermicomposting, etc., and then proceeds to debunk these myths. She moves on to discuss the different types of composting. Who knew there were so many?! There are compost bins, holes, trenches, cone digester systems, rotating barrels, stationary bins and indoor systems. Going into detail about each type, it makes it easier for the person who is new to composting to figure out which type would work best for them. She even includes a table that shows at a glance what type of system works in what type of living situation (e.g. rural, suburban, city, condo, and apartment). She also details about what can and cannot be composted and what type of substances can be added to help the composting process. As with the other Back to Basic books, this book also includes many case studies throughout where individuals share their stories about composting. I like the personal touch that the case studies add. In Chapter 4, there are instructions on how to make your own composting bins. These can be made out of many things: cardboard box, chicken wire, trash cans, trenches, concrete blocks, and more. There are instructions for those with experience in building on how to build a tumbling barrel composter which is covered in about 14 pages including pictures and diagrams. Building a composting system doesn’t have to cost much and is much more economical then purchasing one. The author covers how to use compost and about vermicomposting, which is composting using worms. In the back she includes the web address for each state’s Cooperative Extension System (these sites include agricultural information specific to your state) and information about companies who sell composters. Ms. Smith definitely has done her research and this book is a good one to keep on hand when deciding to compost. With it, the reader can make a determination of what type of composting would work best for them and cost effective ways to start and maintain a composting system.
HeidiSueRoth More than 1 year ago
In this book, Kelly Smith makes composting accessible to anyone who is interesting. From indoor systems for those who live in apartments or condominiums to larger systems for those who want large amounts of healthy fertilizer for gardens, you can find the answers you need by reading the book. The contents balance the science you need to succeed with layman¿s terms so the process is easy to manage. She provides plans on building different styles of composting systems along with many helpful tables. The tables provide quick reference to the nutrient balance of different ingredients, the qualities of different systems, and many other topics. You don¿t have to read the book cover to cover to get the answers you want. In fact, Ms. Smith designed the book so that you can read the first couple chapters as your baseline and then skip around to the information you need for wherever you are at in the composting process. One of my favorite sections covers the myths of composting. Starting on page 23 you¿ll hear many of the common things people believe about preparing your own compost that simply aren¿t true. For example, I simply did not know that while earthworms are great in the garden, they aren¿t a good choice for an intense process like focused composting. This is just one myth that is dispelled making it easier for each person to get started, large or small, with their own composting projects. As with everything I¿ve seen from Atlantic Publishing, the book is laid out well and the print is a pleasant size to read. I¿m sure like many others I¿ve read and recommended, you¿ll find this book a great addition to your gardening resources. No doubt you¿ll refer to it repeatedly over the years and get exceptional value for your investment in ¿How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System.¿
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Vicki_Landes More than 1 year ago
As the 'green' movement moves to mainstream life, many people ask the question, 'What more can I do to reduce my carbon footprint and help the environment?' Enter composting! Author Kelly Smith gives the 'whys', 'hows', and 'wheres' in her new book (which is printed on recycled paper), "How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System: Secrets and Techniques You Need to Know to Grow the Best Vegetables". "How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System" is an organized and comprehensive discussion on all things compostable. Smith begins by introducing the beginner to the subject with vivid descriptions and lots of possibilities. The benefits as well as potential issues are also discussed as well as myths and answers to a myriad of questions. She also gives plenty of options that range from the inexpensive set ups to store bought systems. Sidebar articles from people who compost regularly are also included to give readers various viewpoints on the subject. Further, the extensive appendices offer helpful sources for additional reading, finding others in your community that also compost, a glossary of terms, and places to purchase composting items. I found the book to be exceptionally thorough on what goes into composting. There was probably more than I've ever thought I'd want to know but reading from the perspective of someone with no background or knowledge on the subject, it was a perfect introduction. Smith's clear descriptions as well as her pictures assisted greatly in understanding what exactly she was trying to convey while her obvious passion got me excited about starting a compost pile of my own. I especially liked the included building plans for an enclosed system; I think this is something many people - who wouldn't otherwise want an open pile of decaying matter in their yard - would be extremely interested in having. She not only takes the concept of 'living green' into account but aesthetics as well. Good for the environment, less garbage trucked to landfills, readymade fertilizer for your garden - these are all benefits from the simple act of composting. Large yard or small plot and even no yard at all, "How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System: Secrets and Techniques You Need to Know to Grow the Best Vegetables" gives you the down and dirty on how to get started and do your part! Reviewed by Vicki Landes, author of "Europe for the Senses - A Photographic Journal"