Water Wednesday Recap – Composting for a Waterwise Landscape
Composting reduces your water use, improves your soil health, and decreases your overall environmental impact. Last Water Wednesday, the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Agent in Orange County, Tia Silvasy, discussed how to turn kitchen and garden “waste” into resources to benefit your yard and protect our water resources.
Florida-Friendly Landscaping principle number seven, “Recycle Yard Waste”, encourages strategies that keep organic wastes on site and minimize the export and import of organic materials. When you rake, bag and haul away yard waste to be composted at the landfill, the organic materials are lost from the garden ecosystem. Make compost by building a pile or use “compost in place” strategies. You can use an open pile, pallet pile, wire mesh bin, purchased bin worm composting, and/or electric composter. To build a pile add layers of browns and greens with a little soil and water. Always cover fresh food scraps to prevent bad odors.
Essential ingredients for composting process include air, water, organic materials and microbes. The microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi are naturally occurring in your soil. They will find their way into your pile. You can speed up compost process by chopping things into smaller pieces, turning to increase air, adding high nitrogen materials, mixing thoroughly, monitoring pile moisture, and making the pile bigger. When your compost is finished you can apply it to your potting mix, vegetable garden, lawn and landscape beds.
Composting in Place
Composting in place, such as grass-cycling, tree-cycling, and chop and drop, is a great way to add organic matter to the landscape without hauling that materials to your compost pile.
Grass-cycling is a strategy to recycle yard waste in place while adding organic matter to the landscape. Simply use the mulch setting on your mower and leave grass clippings on the lawn to increase organic matter and return nutrients to the soil over time. If extra grass clippings result in clumping, rake the clippings for more even distribution. Tree leaves can be an important source of organic matter in the landscape or the compost pile.
Tree-cycle is utilizing fallen leaves by raking them into landscape beds. They will act as mulch to protect the soil. When leaves decompose, they slowly add organic matter and improve soil health.
Chop and drop works well in more naturalized landscapes where the landscape clippings can be left on the ground to add to the mulch layer. Clumping grasses, bananas, and Fabaceae (pea) family plants are great for mulching and building your soil.
To learn more about composting, please watch the video below.