Ed BruskeAn award-winning journalist for The Wasington Post in a previous life, Ed Bruske is a Master Gardener and president of D.C. Urban Gardeners, a group dedicated to the greening of the District of Columbia through public education and hands-on volunteer efforts. An accomplished public speaker, Ed focuses his lecture activities on composting and soil ecology. He practices daily organic recycling through composting and vermicomposting at his home about a mile from the White House, where he and his wife are transforming their corner lot into an edible landscape. Ed is a personal chef, caterer and chef-in-residence at The Washington Youth Garden, located at the U.S. National Arboretum in the District of Columbia. He also writes about composting and cooking from the garden on his blog, The Slow Cook, www.theslowcook.blogspot.com.
Hi, I am Ed Bruske with D.C. Urban Gardeners. We are here in my garden in the District of Columbia talking about composting and I just wanted to give you a few tips, a few pointers about tools for composting. What you saw me doing here was shredding up some leaves that I collected last fall. I will go around the neighborhood and collect the bags, the leaves that people put out the curb, why do all the work right, when people have already done it. Then, I keep them for this time of year, when we don't have leaves on the ground and I can still make compost. I use a leaf shredder because the fungi that like to munch on the leaves prefer it or they work a little bit faster if the leaves are chopped into pieces, but you do not have to do that.
You can put whole leaves in your compost pile. I just like this, it is convenient, it was not a very expensive tool and it works really fast. The other tools you need for composting are a simple as could be. For instance, I have a fork spade here, you can also use a pitchfork if you have one and that helps turning clumps of grass or weeds that you have put in your pile from the garden, things that don't pick up very easily with a shovel. The other tool I have that I use a lot is a spade shovel, this one has a long handle, you could use a short handle spade, but I have had this one for years, so why buy another one? This is really good for turning the compost or lifting the compost when it gets broken down a little bit more as it gets closer to looking like soil. The third tool that you might want to use at some point, that some composters really use a lot is this thermometer and this measures the temperature of your compost heap as you can see it has got a really long stem on it. What you do is you stick it down into your compost and that will tell you how hard it is in your compost pile. That's another tool that you do not really need, compost will happen all by itself, even if you do not intervene at all, but if you want to make really quick compost and you are looking for a really lot of heat in your pile, this thermometer will help you tell you what is going on down inside the pile.
The next thing we are going to talk about is why your garden compost needs air and water.