Thomas Murphy - Pine Shores Real Estate



Posted by Thomas Murphy on 5/27/2018

One feature new homeowners most look forward to adding is a backyard garden. Afterall, is there anything better than a homegrown tomato or zucchini?

Another benefit of homeownership is the ability to start a compost heap for your garden. By skipping chemical fertilizers in favor of compost you will not only have a great way to recycle yard and kitchen scraps but also naturally replenish the soil. This leads to healthier plants, a healthier you and little by little a healthier planet.

Compost is so nourishing because of what is called humus. Humus is the part of soils made from decomposition. It restores nutrients to the malnourished soil, helps the soil retain moisture and even keep diseases from affecting your plants.

To get started you’ll want to choose how you’ll go about creating your compost. You can either opt for a tumbling composter, which takes a lot of the manual work out of turning your pile, or creating your compost on top of the ground, where it will have easy access to earthworms and easily drain excess water.

When creating a compost pile you will want it to be at least 3 feet long by 3 feet wide. You will also want your pile to be about 3 feet high. To help keep your pile neat and contained you can build, or buy, a fence-like box for your compost pile.  

When you have your compost “storage” of choice ready to go you’ll also want to have a good amount of scraps to begin building your pile up to those 3 feet I mentioned or fill up your bin. The best way to do this is to keep two sealable containers in your kitchen to toss scraps in for your pile. However, you don’t want to toss just anything into this container.


What you can put into your Dry (also called Brown) scrap container:

  • Eggshells

  • Tea leaves and/or coffee grounds

  • Dead flowers

  • Cardboard and paper goods (they must be unwaxed)

  • 100% cotton and/or wool (no synthetics)


What you can put in your Moist (also called Green) scrap container:

  • Vegetable scraps

  • Fruit scraps

  • Grass and leaves

  • Manure from herbivorous animals (cows, horses, rabbits, etc)


What you should never put in your containers:

  • Meat, fish or bone scraps

  • Manure from carnivorous animals (cats, dogs, etc)

  • Waxed, sticky or treated paper products and/or wood

  • Citrus peels or onions


Begin your pile with a layer of sticks and straw if you will be building it on bare ground. This will allow your compost to properly drain and avoid becoming oversaturated. Next, alternate layers of moist/green and dry/brown materials to an even 50/50 ratio.  

You will want turn over your pile every few weeks to allow for oxygenation. If your pile begins steaming that means the decomposition process is in action!  When it begins to turn a crumbly black in the center and earthworms are showing up compost has begun to/is fully formed and ready to use in your garden!




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Posted by Thomas Murphy on 1/24/2016

Composting is easy to do and helps reduce household waste significantly. If you want to start composting, feel free to begin right at the earth’s level, on the ground. The key to a good compost pile is being sure to layer your items in moderation, allowing air flow and liquids to permeate the entire pile. Be sure to drill some holes in a covered container, allowing air and rain to pass through. If you do not have the space, start small or consider a local community compost option. Start right on the ground with a layer of sticks and grass or hay. As you build from the ground up, add moist layers of household waste and then dry layers of household waste. More carbon than nitrogen is necessary. Carbon examples would be coffee filters, cornstalks, egg shells, peels and wood ash (be sure they are not hot ashes or this whole situation will get out of hand). Nitrogen examples would be manure, lawn clippings, leaves and food scraps. Layering (wet, dry, wet, dry) is key to your compost becoming the rich soil you are striving to create. Layering accordingly will allow for airflow and faster compost. Too many ashes at once will clump and you will be unable to “churn” the composted pile. If you wish to use a bucket or an official com-poster, be sure to layer in the same fashion. Remember to cover this pile; heat retention is important, as well as controlled rain. Too much rain will ruin what you are trying to do. Moist is good, soaked is not good. Now that you are on your way to composting, be sure to turn that pile every few weeks, allowing the oxygen to do its thing. A great way to “churn” your pile is using a pitch fork. Oxygen is important to the breakdown of composted items. If you have an official com-poster, you may see results that much faster. Be patient, this will take some time, but the end result will be well worth it for you, your garden, and your patio plants. Quick note, do not add the following items to your compost pile, this will breed bacteria and attract pests: Any personal products such as toilet paper or tampons, raw rice is a bacterial breeding ground, cooked rice attracts pests, milk products (cream, milk, yogurt) or animal products (bones, blood, fish) should be off limits. Magazine paper or heavily coated paper will just add chemicals to your all natural setting and will not break down any time soon.




Tags: composting   recycle waste   soil  
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Posted by Thomas Murphy on 11/23/2014

Composting is becoming a more and more popular way to save money and be more eco-friendly. There are many reasons to compost but some of the most enticing are it costs next to nothing, and if you're a gardener or have any landscaping at all, your compost pile will save you money. Compost can be used instead of expensive fertilizer and because you are reusing your yard waste you might be able to save on municipal trash removal costs. Here are some easy tips on how to get started composting: Storage You may decide to go with either an open or closed storage system. Containers keep the compost materials neat and tidy and can be built inexpensively from discarded shipping pallets, fencing or chicken wire or leftover treated lumber from another building project. You can also purchase many different types of composting bins. The least expensive way is to start a compost heap. Make the pile at least 6' x 6' and about 5' to 6' high in the middle. Anything smaller will maintain low temperatures and will take longer to decompose. Where should I store it? Try and store your compost pile in partial shade. This will keep it from drying out too fast. The location should also have good drainage. What should I compost? Compost any of the yard waste like fresh grass clippings, dry leaves, dry grass, and wood shavings. Add food waste like vegetable and fruit scraps, breads, pastas, coffee grounds, egg shells, and tea bags. Do not put meats or fats in your compost pile. These food wastes will attract animals and rodents to your bin. Paper towels, toilet paper tubes and other shredded paper products can also be added to your compost bin. Manures from cows, horses, chickens and any non-meat eating animals are excellent nitrogen sources for starting the decomposition process. Compost has so many benefits; it loosens clay soils and helps sandy soils retain water. It works as a natural fertilizers and can suppress plant diseases and pests. Gardens that are composted produce higher yields of healthier fruits, vegetables and flowers.