Gardeners Put Compost to Work

EUGENE, Ore. — The weekend weather is shaping for outdoor activities like gardening.

Spring flowers are blossoming in Barbara Dumesnil’s south Eugene home. They line the perimeter of this spectacular backyard. To get to the heart of the garden, you have to climb up. That’s where serious gardening happens.

Dumesnil is a Master Gardener. Anything that can be composted is put to use, like breakfast leftovers.

“Some grapefruit and some cilantro that hadn’t been consumed, so now the microorganism can have it,” she said.

This is cold composting. It’s one of three composting techniques people can learn about Saturday at a demonstration by Lane County OSU Extension Service farms and gardens.

To start cold composting, you need a bin–that’s about $50-$60–and simply throw in food scraps.

“That’s your nitrogen source, and then cover it with some sort of carbon source like dried leaves or bark,” Dumesnil said.

Straw can also be used, but cold composting does take time about six months, and it has to rotated.

Hot composting is another technique, which doesn’t take as long as cold to break down. It’s also more labor intensive. Layering is also a great way to compost.

“They’ll put a layer of cardboard and then a layer of leaves and veggie waste and coffee grounds and all that good stuff and layer, layer, layer,” Dumesnil said.

It’s a great way to start a garden and is best to set up in fall so it’s ready for planting in spring. While composting can help a garden grow, it’s not as nutritious as fertilizer.

“You would still want to use fertilizer, but it does increase the health of the soil because you are adding a lot of organic matter,” Dumesnil said.

The free compost demo is Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon at the River House Compost Education Site, located at 301 N. Adams in Eugene. The site is located behind the River House, along the bike path in East Maurie Jacobs Park.

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