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Composting in the Tropics … Organic Gardening in Miami

April 1, 2010

P R O P E R T Y   S E A R C H

R E S T I V O – H E C H T M A N    T E A M

 bird bath and flowers

Yes you CAN compost in Miami.  Pick a shady spot  in the garden, and get a ventilated covered container at least 3 feet by 3 feet….   I’ve composted using a container, as well as without one.  As much as I like the idea of an open pile, the raccoons got into the open pile, offing with the newly added table scraps… and setting up home in our backyard.

To compost, start with the carbon rich ‘brown’ components of branches, leaves, grass cuttings, and wood pieces (which your gardener can leave for you)… This will comprise 3/4 of your initial ‘pile’.   

Add vegetable scraps, eggshells,banana peels, discarded fruits/veggies/peels/tea bags, coffee grounds from your kitchen (known as the ‘green component’).  This will comprise the other 1/4 of your initial pile.  (Avoid dairy,  meat  or poultry products other than eggshells)

You can buy a composting ‘starter’ from the local garden shop… a powdery substance… or you can work without one.

 Keep the mixture :

1)balanced between  brown’ (3/4) and ‘green’ (1/4),

2)choose a shady spot,

3) moist/ but well-drained,

4) aerate the pile by tossing it with a pitch fork,

5) cover it to keep animals from scavenging through it.

The process breaks down yard waste, and should not be odorous other than the rich dirt smell that comes from the process.  The pile should be feel like the consistency of a wrung-out sponge…with a moisture content of about 50%.   If you place the compost pile in the shade, where it can get rain,  you’ll have to wet it down less frequently.  As you add scraps (garden and kitchen) keep the composition 1/4 kitchen and 3/4 yard… and toss the newly added components into your existing pile of compost.  The pile will decay,sprout, and become home to garden worms … all indications that you have a healthy pile.

In Miami the process of composting can take anywhere from 6-12 months, depending upon the yard waste you use.  The compost will eventually turn into what looks like very, very dark dirt or soil…. and will have a rich earthy smell.  

Adding compost to your potted plants and vegetable garden will produce stronger, more resilient plants. It will help reduce plant disease,and improve the quality of the soil… requiring less commercially produced fertilizer and allow you to garden organically… even in Miami. 

A lot of people move to Miami to putter in the garden, and test their hand with the local tropical plants.  If you’d like a  little piece of the sun, and are looking for a top notch Realtor in Miami to help you find something great, I would be happy to assist you!  Drop me a note here, or contact me at 305 793 1365. For more information on living in South Florida, gardening, buying or selling real estate in the tropics, I invite you to visit my blog at MiamiRealEstateCafe.com

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