For those of you that are taking on planting your own vegetable garden in hopes of harvesting fresh produce for your cooking, composting is one way to take your garden to the next level. Compost is one of nature’s best mulches and soil amendments, and you can use it instead of commercial fertilizers. Using compost improves soil structure, texture, and aeration and also increases the soil’s water-holding capacity. Here are some tips to starting composting your vegetable garden.

1. Mix things up. Your compost needs oxygen if it is going to break down the materials you add.

2. Save your slimy friends. If you find a worm while you’re gardening carefully relocate it to your compost bin. And it will happily work on breaking down your wastes.

3. Sunshine=Fast Compost. Composters work quicker in sunny locations but if you have to, partial sun will work too (it will just take longer).

4. Keep it Covered. Keep a clear bag of leaves next to the composter so you always have brown material to cover new waste additions. This will also help keep the fly population down in the summer.

5. Kitchen Bin. You’re more likely to compost if you don’t have to run out to the composter a few times a day. Keep a lidded container in your kitchen for convenience and empty a few times a week.

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