Gardening organically depends so much on composted fertilizer. We just started our compost and it wont be ready for a while so it has been a challenge gardening without it. This is the kind of compost bin we use. We have been putting in veggie scraps, egg shells, grass clippings, leaves and chicken manure. I didn’t know how much hands on maintenance a compost bin really is. Compost needs 5 ingredients. 1. Brown dry materials – leaves and dry grass clippings. 2. Green materials – fresh grass clippings and kitchen scraps. 3. Dirt – This is “starter” to introduce living organisms into the compost which helps it to break down faster. 4. Water- dry compost will keep those organisms that you want in your compost away. Moist, but not soggy compost is ideal. 5. Air – hard compacted compost will not let in enough air for the organisms to thrive and multiply.
If you have good compost, your compost should reach temperatures of about 120 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Start by mixing three parts brown materials to one part green materials. Then layer on a thin layer of dirt. Continue layers 3:1 brown/green ratio adding dirt between each layer. Pour over the top plenty of water. Once a week add air by mixing with a shovel or pitch fork. Continue this for a few weeks and then check the bottom layer for finished compost. You can sift this compost through a mesh screen before adding to your garden.
As a side note: If you are adding chicken manure, you will need to wait about two to three months before using in your garden unless you add it after the growing season ends. It can be added directly to your garden if you wait until fall. This way the chicken manure can sit in the garden all winter and be ready to fertilize your new garden come spring.