August 11, 2014
We all receive packages in cardboard boxes, and we may reuse them ourselves or may simply place them in the recycling pile. But did you know that those boxes can be used for composting? Jodie Anderson, a soil scientist, has shown that hot composting can do wonders for the soil. In her native Alaska, there are so many cardboard boxes that there are literal box-burning nights. She has been visiting many towns and helping to convince them their gardens can use the soil amendments from those boxes.
Curious how to create your own compost pile out of your old cardboard boxes? Follow Andersons advice and you’ll be well on your way.
Shredding up your cardboard is the first step, this in addition to woodchips would make a fine compost and you won’t need to add anything extra. Since composting will rob the pile of oxygen, it is recommended that the pile be damp. This also aids in the breakdown. You want to make sure that your compost isn’t too wet, or too dry.
Your pile should begin to get hot, up to 130 degrees within 48 hours. If the pile gets too hot, over 165 degrees, turning the pile should help bring the temperature down. You can then leave your pile for five days, before having to check the temperature again. By this time, your huge pile should have shrunk to half its size. Turning the pile every ten days for the next month, will keep the microbes inside of it very happy, and will make great compost for your garden.
The next step will test your patience, as you have to wait a year until the microbes inside of it will be of any benefit.
After this year long wait, your pile will be done curing. Compost itself can be a bit salty and may not go over well with certain plants, so it is suggested to mix it in with the soil when planting.