Composting Basics

Composting Basics covers composting from building the bins to mixing the ingredients to using the finished product. Newcomers to composting will find the book extremely helpful while gardeners who have a compost operation running may not find as much material to digest. For all garden readers, though, the well-designed and amply illustrated book is worth a look.

The authors did a great job capturing the lists of what should and should not be placed into a compost pile. I would recommend rabbit manure, missing from their list, as a good source of nitrogen. Gardeners in suburban areas may have a neighbor with a pet rabbit who needs an outlet for the residue from the weekly cleaning of Hoppy’s home. Provide a bucket with a suitable lid and be faithful to pick up. My compost pile steams from such an arrangement.

Good advice and tips are scattered throughout Composting Basics including realistic time estimates for cooking a batch of compost, suggestions for easier aerating, and how to know when the pile is done.

Compost bins both commercial and DIY are described, and each reader should be able to use the ideas and images to create a bin suitable for his needs. The three-bin pallet compost design is especially appealing for its capacity as well as low construction cost. Gardeners can find free pallets from many sources.

I found the section on the compost screener to be tedious with fifteen pages describing a project that can be found on the web in a single blog post (where the tool may be called a compost sifter). And I question the author’s suggestion that a gardener use a circular saw to rip thin strips of wood lengthwise from an eight foot board supported by two knee-high saw horses. That is an accident waiting to happen. Gardeners, your home center will have, in addition to the wood you need for the frame, strips of screen door trim which can be used to cover the screen edges. Think safety first, and please wear eye protection when operating power equipment.

The book closes with a helpful Resources page with links for more information both printed and online.

With this volume in hand no one can use the excuse, “I don’t compost because I don’t know how.” Composting Basics removes the mystery. Start your pile cooking today.