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Norwalk Daily Voice serves Norwalk & Rowayton

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Best Fertilizer Grows From Your Kitchen

Now is a great time to start a compost pile if you don’t already have one cooking in your garden. Compost is the best natural fertilizer – and my favorite thing about it is that it's free. So forget those expensive bags of factory-made compost and make your own. It’s really very simple –- and, no, it doesn’t smell bad.

In simple terms, compost is decomposed organic matter that is full of nutrients for your plants. The best recipe includes a combination of carbon-rich brown materials and nitrogen-rich green materials. You can start collecting them in your kitchen today.

Here’s how we make compost at my house. I keep an old cat litter bucket with a lid in my kitchen. The bottom gets lined with used paper napkins or paper towels (brown stuff) and then everything compostable (green stuff) gets dumped in throughout the day. Throughout the day everything gets tossed in: egg shells and fruit peel in the morning, bruised lettuce and vegetable leaves, coffee grounds and tea bags, shriveled who-knows-whats from the bottom of your veggie bin. You can throw in rotten fruit and juice that’s gone bad. But avoid all meat and dairy products, as they will attract pests to your garden.

When the spirit moves you, take the kitchen bin outdoors and dump it in your yard composter. At this time of year, add yard waste as you clean up the garden. Shred leaves and add them too – they are rich in carbon.

The most basic yard composter is a pile at the bottom of the garden, but you can make a cheap bin with four posts and some chicken wire, like the one shown. Turn your pile regularly, as this aerates everything and speeds up the process. Keep adding your scraps throughout the winter. They’ll start turning into compost as soon as the temperatures rise again.

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