Monthly Archives: July 2020

What Should You Compost—and What Should You Avoid?

Compost Supplier West Jordan, Utah
Composting the Kitchen Waste

If you really want to decrease your carbon footprint, a great way to do so is by creating your own compost from food and yard scraps. However, it’s virtually impossible for home-based compost to have the right makeup and quantity for all your composting needs—instead, think of home composting as a supplement to the high-quality compost you can order at The Dirt Bag. If you’re new to DIY composting, you might be surprised at what the best compost items are and what you should avoid. To get started, dedicate a bin specifically to composting. Some people like to keep their yard-based composting separate from their kitchen-based items. If you want to focus on kitchen scraps, choosing a small bin with a firmly attached lid that you can keep in the kitchen is a must to get started.

Compost is made up of raw materials that turn into organic waste as they decompose. The more items you compost, the less you’ll contribute to landfills. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that compostable items make up 20 – 30% of the country’s municipal solid waste. That’s up to 30% of waste that could have been composted to help yards and gardens flourish. However, not all home composting is created equally. You need a variety of different materials to create a rich product packed with diverse micro-nutrients and microbial life. 

What Goes in Compost?

Leaves, grass clippings, and bush trimmings are some of the best yard-based compost items. They’re easy to gather, too. Simply clip the bag onto your mower for easy gathering. If you have farm animals, organic manure is also a fantastic compost ingredient. You can also compost pet bedding from herbivore critters like hamsters or rabbits. Dry cat and dog food can be composted, as can dryer lint and the dust gathered from vacuuming or sweeping. If you have old herbs or spices, put them in your compost rather than the trash or down the drain. Finally, you can compost any non-animal food scraps like coffee grounds, tea leaves (and even tea bags without the staples), fruits, veggies, starches, and more. Old wine can be composted, too.

There are some compostable items that need a little prep work. For instance, you can compost paper (including newspapers and paper bags) but only if they’re shredded first. The same goes for cardboard, toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, and clean tissues. Old clothes, sawdust, nutshells, all types of hair, fruit pits, wine corks, and pine cones are just a few more items that can be composted if they’re broken down a bit. 

What Doesn’t Go in Compost?

Avoid long or big branches (those must be broken down and can be time-consuming). Blackberry and raspberry brambles also don’t belong in compost. However, the worst thing you can put in compost is pet droppings from animals that eat meat, especially cats and dogs. Any animal products like meat, dairy, or skins should always stay out of composting.

Ready to go green? Start your own composting bins and connect with The Dirt Bag to supplement your compost with our bagged, deliverable options.

Soil for Your Garden Bed

The Dirt Bag Garden Soil
Garden Soil West Jordan, Utah

A raised garden bed is a beautiful addition to any yard and can increase a home’s curb appeal dramatically. However, before you start planting and gardening, you need to consider what type of soil to use in these beds, and The Dirt Bag can help. Besides looking gorgeous, a huge perk of a raised garden bed is having complete control over the soil (and mulch in some cases). For those who have a yard with especially tough soil in which to grow vegetables and flowers, garden beds are even better. You don’t have to worry about dealing with clay soil, pollutants in the dirt, or any issues with tree roots. Great soil is the key to a healthy garden, so choosing the best topsoil for a gardening bed is a big decision.

Although you can get garden beds in various sizes, the best are usually between six and eight feet long, between three and four feet wide, and up to about one foot tall. This gives you the perfect dimensions to plant, weed, sow, and of course, you can do all of this from the comfort of the bedside. The soil in a bed stays loose and resists becoming hard-packed (particularly from footsteps which you no longer have to worry about). Before figuring out the kind of soil you want, you also need to consider how much you’ll need—and it’s always more than you think. Many gardeners opt for soil delivery (which is free at The Dirt Bag), but smaller beds may be able to get filled with bag purchases.

Fill ‘er Up with Soil

Gardeners who remove the bottom part of a raised bed might want to uproot the grass and flip it over. It will break down over time and also help reduce the amount of soil you’ll need to purchase. The exact best soil mix for you will vary based on your region and what you want to grow, but many gardeners choose a triple mix (topsoil, peat moss/black loam, and compost). A direct 50/50 variation is one of the most popular picks in the US, which blends topsoil with compost. It’s important to know exactly where your soil is coming from since you don’t want topsoil that’s been sitting for a long time with its nutrients leaking out (don’t worry—at The Dirt Bag, that’s never a problem).

Some other soil providers get their topsoil from various new subdivisions being built. This is low-quality soil that doesn’t belong in your garden. However, if you’re purchasing bags of topsoil, look for labels that say “organic vegetable” or “herb mix” that’s designed for growing veggies and flowers. You might want to fill your beds almost to the top with your customized mix, then top it with a bit of compost. Make sure your compost is also organic vegetable compost. If you don’t already create compost yourself, getting a raised garden bed is the perfect excuse to start. You can always top off your beds with your very own compost to help direct more nutrients into the soil. Find out more about soil and compost for raised beds by calling The Dirt Bag today.

Match Your Mulch to Your Garden Goals

The Dirt Bag The Mulch for your Garden

At The Dirt Bag, one of the most common questions we get is what type of mulch is best. There’s no single answer because it completely depends on your gardening goals. You need mulch in your garden because the right mulch helps you save water, fight weeds, and keep pests at bay. This means healthier veggies, fruits, and flowers. Some mulch is designed for specific crops, but let’s start with the basics. There are two primary types of mulch: organic and inorganic. Organic is comprised of what used to be living things like straw, wood chips, pine needles, and so on. Inorganic mulch is man-made like plastic and landscape fabric strips.

Organic and inorganic mulch both minimize weeds, but organic mulch nourishes the soil at the same time. Inorganic mulch isn’t meant to break down, so they don’t enrich the soil, but it can still be the right mulch for you. For example, black plastic is a common inorganic mulch that keeps the soil warm even at night so veggies that love the heat, like cherry tomatoes, thrive with this type of mulch.

Mulch Matching

One of the most well-known types of mulch is shredded bark or wood chips. It looks pretty, but reserve this type of mulch for bordering shrubs, making pathways, or for perennial flower beds, Vegetables, and annual flowers aren’t the best mates for bark chips because it’s tough to tend a garden when you have to dig past big chunks of bark. Grass clippings are another popular item, and you can harvest your own every time you mow. They are good for lawn fertilizer and to use in veggie gardens that require more nitrogen.

Compost can be a great way to enrich the soil, but the compost needs to be damp. Too much dry mulch isn’t good for plant roots. The best way to use compost is to spread a thin layer on top of other mulch and around your plants. This will help your compost retain moisture and stay biologically active to optimize flower, fruit, and vegetable growth. You can also use straw or hay, especially for veggie gardens. Weed-free hay and salt hay are good picks for not only looking beautiful but also helping to prevent weeds, keep in moisture, and get an extra dose of organic matter as it breaks down. Keep it away from any stems of fruit trees or vegetables, otherwise, rodents and slugs might get attracted to it.

Finally, there’s a plastic mulch. Put the plastic over smooth soil to make your own microclimate that stays three degrees warmer than it would otherwise. You can safeguard your crops, stop rotting, and keep weeds in check. There are a few different types of plastic mulching, including infrared-transmitting plastics that are costlier but offer even better results. To learn more about mulching options and to get your gardening goals achieved more quickly, contact The Dirt Bag today for a customized action plan.