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Organic Composting 101 at the Garden

July 21, 2020

Have any of you thought to enhance your new plants with some mega natural nutrients? Have you ever tried to make your own compost? We have the most amazing resource at our garden! This year we updated the signage and work hard to make the compost bins a great resource for all things garden. The compost at an open space community garden like Rose Roots is a lot different from your backyard compost. A couple big differences is larger quantity and no food waste involved because of attracting wild animals from the open space. Below is some education on How to Compost at the Garden along with the links on our new youtube page. Working hard to keep it coming, we have two solid, knowledgeable Compost Masters, Tom at the East and Glen at the West. They are always in need of help. If you would like to fulfill your service hours and find this chemistry interesting, please email to get involved in one or all of the below steps. It is BEST to work with a team and Master Composter to schedule the work as this is chemistry and if disturbed it stops the chemistry. Click on the link for each stage to see the video for that step. Steps to nutritious amazing compost for use in our plots. Step 1 -

  • Please bring your weeds (greens & browns), vegetation, etc. to the staging area of the compost bins. REMEMBER, anything you can't mow, does NOT go here.

  • Reminders NO... rocks of any kind, brittle stalks (Sunflower, etc), metal, plastic, rotted veggies

  • It is mowed before going into the bins to start the breakdown.

  • Questions to ask yourself.

  • What does my compost look like when I purchase it at a store?

  • Does it have ROCKs in it? Metal? Plastic name plates? Sunflower stalks? Rotten food? These don't go in the staging area either.

Step 2

  • The Composter MOWs/mulches the staged vegetation to break down the greens and browns starting the decomposition. It then lays there for a day or so, to rest.

Step 3

  • The mowed/mulched, staged vegetation is moved to the STAGE 1 bin, watered the proper amount, covered and a composting thermometer is placed in it to watch it's temperature.

Step 4

  • Once in Bin 1 and 2 the cooking and decomposition starts and breaks down the vegetation. Cool chemistry! It is covered with plastic and a composting thermometer is placed in it. The temperature raises to around 140-180 degrees killing roots, most seeds, etc. at this stage. In this process it should not be disturbed so it can reach these temperatures.

Step 5

  • The Composter moves the compost to Bin 3 where gardeners are able to enjoy the nutrient rich compost in their gardens. Putting some compost near the base of your plants can give them an extra boost mid season and help with water saving. This process can 4-8 weeks.

Step 6

  • Enjoy the compost while remembering what does and does not make amazing enrichment for our plants and WHAT DOES! To help you know what doesn't go in the staging area, below is a list. The list for Do's is so much easier and we have plenty of good weeds.

DO NOT put in Composting - Don't MOW, Don't go there!

Ouch TO Mower - NO

ROCKs any size!                                     

Sunflower stalks/stalks of any sort                                              

Dirt clods                       

Metal anything 

Gross - NO 

Dog/cat feces

Attracts wild animals - NO

Rotten Veggies 

Diseased plants - makes diseased compost 

Diseased Veggies - makes diseased compost

Long Decomposition - NO - TAKE HOME



Seeds/flowers on weeds or plants

Why should we employ composting? Compost added to soil can help anything grow. Compost also:

  • Reduces water consumption (can lower water bill by about 20%)

  • Acts as a natural pesticide

  • Improves soil condition

  • Diverts contents from landfills

  • Reduces methane gas

DO ADD to the compost staging - no pesticides

Greens (Carbon)

Weeds without flowers or seeding                   

Coffee Grounds  - at a minimum     

Browns (Nitrogen)

Dried plant material from plot

Give weeds a day in a pile at your plot

Dried pea plants

Tomato plant clippings - healthy


If you ever have questions, there is a brochure in the west barn and/or please ask anyone who may be working the compost and/or this article by DUG . Composting is always a work in progress! We learn more with each batch. Enjoy what you reap and awareness of what you put in the staging area is a product of what gardeners add to your plot. 

Thank you all for doing your part in this ongoing project and learning about composting! It is a continual learning process for all of us. PLEASE be helpful with your part!! Oh, and DUG will be giving a presentation in August. Please attend so you understand the compost you add to!

For the love of Gardening,

Compost Masters

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