The Community Teaching Garden, located next to the Phelan Community Park, offers a free garden class on the second Saturday of each month at 10:00 am. “How To Compost” will be the topic for the June class, which will be held in person. Be sure to stop by and say “hello!”
Composting is the process of gathering organic materials and aiding in their breakdown or decay into rich nutrients. One of the main ingredients of composting is food scraps. They should never go in the trash because organic materials do not belong in a landfill. They are a valuable resource that should be composted and put back in the earth to amend overworked soil or feed plants and trees.
Home composting helps reduce waste in landfills which is a goal the State of California has mandated for every community in the state. Home composting can save you money in the long run because less trash at the landfill keeps costs down and helps avoid penalties imposed on communities for not reducing landfill usage.
One way to compost is to gather fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen and weeds, tree limbs, grass clippings, and leaves from outside into a pile. The idea is to have 50% fresh green scraps and 50 % percent dried brown scraps gathered in an area with lots of airflow and a way to water it; this is called a compost heap. The heap must be turned, watered (kept moist, not sopping wet). If your compost smells, it usually means your heap is too moist. To fix this, add more dry or brown organic scraps and introduce more air into the mixture by turning it.
It is important to monitor and maintain your compost. The temperature in the middle of the heap can range from 120 to 170 degrees if kept moist and turned. A compost heap can self-combust if not kept moist and turned. This rarely happens, but it can happen. So, you should keep your heap away from structures and make sure you have access to water. Compost may attract rodents, so this is another reason to keep a compost pile away from the house. The more you turn your heap, the faster it will decompose. Small size scraps help lessen the time to process. The finished compost is dark and crumbly and smells earthy, not stinky.
The Community Teaching Garden is located behind the PPHCSD office building at the Phelan park in the dirt lot behind the parking lot gate. Hope to see you in class.