Compost is one of the best additives to soil because it helps to retain water in sandy soils and improve drainage in clay soils. Making compost is easy, and adding compost to soil fosters a healthy soil-food web.
Don't bag up your fallen leaves and send them to the landfill. Dump them into a wire bin instead and let them decompose. This DIY bin is 3' tall and 4' in diameter. According to author Michelle Balz, it can hold about as many leaves as you'd stuff into nine paper bags. Once the leaves settle, you'll have more room to add more. The resulting compost is called leaf mold, and while it's not as nutrient-rich as traditional compost, it's still a valuable amendment for improving your soil and helping retain moisture.
If you're a serious composter, consider a unit with multiple bins. They're available for sale, or you can make your own from wire and wood (try re-purposing a wooden pallet). Use wire on one side to let air circulate around your scraps or clippings, and add a lid that locks or secures to keep critters out. Aim for at least two bins in your unit so you can transfer your materials from one to the other. "Stirring" the pile lets more air reach them and makes it break down faster.
Kitchen compost bins make it easy to save your food scraps without making a special trip outoors. A bucket or pail with a lid will do, and if countertop space is tight, you can tuck your kitchen collector under a cabinet or inside a pantry. If odors are a problem, opt for a collector with a built-in carbon filtration system. It will let the scraps get enough air to decompose while it controls icky smells.
Overripe tomatillo fruit turns yellow or purple, depending on the plant’s genetics. Pull overripe fruits from the plant, adding them to your compost bin. The flavor of an overripe tomatillos isn’t tart and fresh, and the flesh becomes soft and mealy.
Primroses (Primulas) bloom in early spring or late winter. Their sweet flowers last for a few weeks indoors, and after they fade, most gardeners toss them in the compost bin. The Victorians loved primroses, growing the plants in greenhouses and conservatories. They've never really gone out of favor, although it’s not easy to coax them back into bloom. For best results, keep their soil slightly moist, grow them in a cool room, and add humidity to the air by sitting them atop some gravel in a tray filled with a little water. To stimulate more blooms, move your primrose outside when the weather is reliably warm. Bring it back indoors before frost, let it go dormant for a month or two and cross your fingers--or just buy new plants to enjoy. ‘Sweet 16’ is a large-flowered variety that blooms in white and shades of pink.
Perfect for small yards, this composter features a modest foot print at 27 inches square. The bin stands 40 inches high, with a built-in lid that won’t blow away even during high wind events. Recycled plastic is UV-resistant, and built-in air holes allow air to reach developing compost.
Vermicomposting is a great way to teach kids about composting while they play in the dirt. To get started, add some holes for air and drainage to a premade bin or box, or make your own. You'll also need some worms--red wiggler worms, or Eisenia fetida, to be specific. As you add food scraps to the bin, the worms will eat them and excrete (okay, poop) castings you can use in your garden. The castings are great for amending your soil and fertilizing plants. Read more about how to care for the worms in chapter 7 of Balz's book (their needs are pretty simple).