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Compost is the richest fertilizer you can use. And you can make it yourself with a little effort. Compost consists of decaying organic material. Things like leaves, grass, and decomposable vegetable scraps can be used to make compost. These materials are layered in a container (or pile) with soil and manure or a high-nitrogen fertilizer. Composting materials should feel moist but not overly soggy. Compost should feel warm to the touch. To prevent unpleasant odors that can occur when materials decompose without oxygen, compost should be turned regularly to ensure that air is reaching the center of the pile.

At our house the main components of our compost pile are grass cuttings, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells, and dead flowers.

The following list will help you get started on your compost pile:

Freezer-burned vegetables
Freezer-burned fruit
Wood chips
Pine needles
Old herbs
Grass clippings
Potato peelings
Stale bread
Coffee grounds
Tea grounds
Egg shells
Grapefruit rinds
Beet wastes
Flower petals
Pumpkin seeds
Citrus wastes
Apple cores
Onion skins
Watermelon rinds
Date pits
Olive pits
Peanut shells
Cooked rice
Banana peels
Artichoke leaves
Fruit salad

© 2004 Debbie Puente
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