DIY (do-it-yourself) Projects

Published on March 5th, 2013 | by Guest Contributor


Composting Basics with Martha Stewart!

In the March 2013 issue of Martha Stewart Living, readers get to take a peek inside Martha’s own farm in Bedford. Not only is MS a genius in the home, she’s also got a farm that she lives and works at in Bedford. She says that, “When I took on the farm more than 10 years ago, I vowed to be as careful with waste as possible, to recycle as much as I possibly could, and to use as many natural materials in building and construction as we could manage.” Check out yesterday’s post for a handy DIY infographic on more composting basics.

composting scraps

lots of green and brown for a carbon-nitrogen balance

Of course, Martha doesn’t just have a few food scraps that go into a haphazard pile. Nope, the goddess of domesticity has AN ENTIRE FIELD dedicated to the art and science of compost. Branches, stumps and other large items are in one area, and manure is left in another. Topsoil from is saved in yet another pile, and all green matter is saved separately too. And then, to turn it all into compost magic, she says, “Once a year, we hire the tub-grinder man to bring his equipment for three to five days to double-grind the wooden pieces. These are then combined with the two-, three-, or four-year-old piles of mulch to continue the decomposition process. Leaves and other vegetable matter are mixed into the manure pile, which is then covered with giant tarps to maintain a temperature of 126 to 141 degrees; the pile is also turned regularly and screened once it’s decomposed. The act of turning and the high temperature eliminates the weeds.”

composting season 1 compost soil

Season one composted soil…


composting Season 2 composting soil: black gold!

Season 2 composted soil: black gold!

Martha also mentions that a “diverse collection of ingredients creates the best, most nutrient-rich compost. Aim for a ratio of one-third nitrogen (moist green materials) to two-thirds carbon (dried brown or paper materials) to obtain an optimal bacterial decomposition.”

Here are some more of Martha Stewart’s tips:

  1. Paper materials: this can include shredded or torn newspaper, and paper from your security shredder, as long as you remove bits of plastic or foil. These allow for aeration of the compost.
  2. Vegetable materials: Veggie peelings, including vegetables from making homemade broth, or those that ‘died’ in the fridge and other kitchen waste like coffee and tea, all of which add nitrogen to the mix. Leftovers, bread crusts, and old grains are okay too, but avoid adding dairy, animal fat, or meat to the pile, since they will attract vermin.
  3. Other plant matter: it’s important to use only healthy dried leaves and stems from the lawn and garden. Discard any diseased leaves or those near plants infested with pests; they may carry insect eggs. Add unwanted but healthy cuttings from houseplants.

Photos reprinted with generous permission of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

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