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How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System [Paperback]

Kelly Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

March 18 2011 Back to Basics Growing

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Shows how composting is fun and easy Aug. 19 2011
If you think you want to start composting, but feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start, this book is for you. This book is also for you if you already compost, but you're wondering if you're doing it right, or if there is anything else you should be doing. I fall into the second group. I grew up in a household where we composted, and I've always composted since I've had my own house. But I'm a rather lazy composter, and for the most part I just dump my fruit and vegetable scraps and yard waste into the bins. Every year or so I dig out what I've made, and I have to admit I find it rather mesmerizing to dig through the pile. With Kelly Smith's help, I've learned why some of my composting techniques didn't work so well and others turned out great. And I now know that I have to give the pile a big stir every now and again. I also really enjoyed the information on worms. Lots of clear information, step-by-step guides for those starting out, and an extensive trouble-shooting section. The book has both a very helpful table of contents and an index. This would make a great housewarming gift for a first-time home buyer.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Summary of Composting for Home Gardeners Yet Dec 15 2011
By Mikethegardener - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The "perfect" book on home composting hasn't been written yet, but for now, this is as good as it gets. Closer to 5 stars than 4. The book both motivational and instructive. It's easy to read and follow even for someone new to composting, yet even someone experienced in many composting methods will find some good new tips and variations on old techniques. It contains well thought out reasons why home composting is important for our environment and beneficial to the home gardener, and clear explanations of many composting methods to choose from based on individual needs and capabilities. There's even a quite workable composting system suitable for display in one's living room! There are a few oversimplifications, mostly in the first couple chapters, but these are quite minor compared with the accurate, concise, logical instructions given on selecting and and implementing simple, manageable and productive composting systems. The pros and cons of various methods are very well explained. I'm a detail-oriented composter, so, for example, I would have preferred to see scientific names (genus & species) as well as common names for several of the more important "decomposers" (organisms such as bacteria, fungi, worms, arthropods, etc. that contribute to the process of breaking down organic matter into "finished" compost ready to be used in the garden), but Smith's descriptions of the roles of these organisms are clear and correct. The book doesn't delve very far into soil science, but that's not its purpose. I occasionally give talks on composting and will definitely be listing Smith's book as one of my references and recommendations for purchase. The illustrations are of quite satisfactory quality in the Kindle version.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just what you need to know... Nov. 11 2011
By H. Roth - Published on
Not too complicated, too long, or basic. This is a great place to get started composting. Start now to be ready for spring planting.

In this book, Kelly Smith makes composting accessible to anyone who is interesting. From indoor systems for those who live in apartments or condominiums to larger systems for those who want large amounts of healthy fertilizer for gardens, you can find the answers you need by reading the book.

The contents balance the science you need to succeed with layman's terms so the process is easy to manage. She provides plans on building different styles of composting systems along with many helpful tables. The tables provide quick reference to the nutrient balance of different ingredients, the qualities of different systems, and many other topics.

You don't have to read the book cover to cover to get the answers you want. In fact, Ms. Smith designed the book so that you can read the first couple chapters as your baseline and then skip around to the information you need for wherever you are at in the composting process.

One of my favorite sections covers the myths of composting. Starting on page 23 you'll hear many of the common things people believe about preparing your own compost that simply aren't true. For example, I simply did not know that while earthworms are great in the garden, they aren't a good choice for an intense process like focused composting. This is just one myth that is dispelled making it easier for each person to get started, large or small, with their own composting projects.

As with everything I've seen from Atlantic Publishing, the book is laid out well and the print is a pleasant size to read. I'm sure like many others I've read and recommended, you'll find this book a great addition to your gardening resources. No doubt you'll refer to it repeatedly over the years and get exceptional value for your investment in "How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive composting July 13 2011
By Susan W - Published on
This is one of those useful reference books you can dip into for a quick answer or you can read at length for all the interesting (nerdy) science surrounding the plant life-cycle. It's comprehensive, but it also provides the basic how-tos of composting, all in an easy, readable style. It would make a good household reference book and therefore a great housewarming gift, or, better yet, a gift to the gardener in your life, because it's chock-full of information about soil and how to get the best possible garden going. Even a seasoned composter will find lots of interesting tips and tidbits throughout. Best of all, the book has a good glossary and index.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to Build Maintain, and use A Compost System Jan. 3 2012
By wendy - Published on
I've been gardening and composting for over 25 years. During that time I learned how to compost from watching friends, and gleaning information from books and magazines. Now for the first time I read cover to cover a book on composting; How to Build, Maintain and Use a Compost System, by, Kelly Smith and I have a better understanding of why we have certain practices when it comes to composting... like; why there is more carbon then nitrogen in the ratio of components to the compost, or how if you don't let your compost break down completely before adding it to the garden it could draw nitrogen from the existing soil.
Its details like this that enlightened me to the more scientific aspects of composting.

From my years of experience of composting, I found that the book painstakingly lays out every last detail in how to create different systems, I just skimmed or passed over these sections and although it was elementary to me I'm realize a beginner would find it beneficial. Also, I have a better understanding of how to create a worm bin.... I think I'll stick to the traditional outside heap!

This book is a perfect beginners guide to getting started and as a reference to anyone who is already experience at the art of composting. I would recommend it to any of my clients to take out the guess work and mystery behind composting.

Wendy Weiner, owner/operator and head gardener for The Front Yard Farmer, LLC
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The down and dirty on composting Aug. 30 2011
By Vicki Liston - Published on
As the `green' movement moves to mainstream life, many people ask the question, `What more can I do to reduce my carbon footprint and help the environment?' Enter composting! Author Kelly Smith gives the `whys', `hows', and `wheres' in her new book (which is printed on recycled paper), "How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System: Secrets and Techniques You Need to Know to Grow the Best Vegetables".

"How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System" is an organized and comprehensive discussion on all things compostable. Smith begins by introducing the beginner to the subject with vivid descriptions and lots of possibilities. The benefits as well as potential issues are also discussed as well as myths and answers to a myriad of questions. She also gives plenty of options that range from the inexpensive set ups to store bought systems. Sidebar articles from people who compost regularly are also included to give readers various viewpoints on the subject. Further, the extensive appendices offer helpful sources for additional reading, finding others in your community that also compost, a glossary of terms, and places to purchase composting items.

I found the book to be exceptionally thorough on what goes into composting. There was probably more than I've ever thought I'd want to know but reading from the perspective of someone with no background or knowledge on the subject, it was a perfect introduction. Smith's clear descriptions as well as her pictures assisted greatly in understanding what exactly she was trying to convey while her obvious passion got me excited about starting a compost pile of my own. I especially liked the included building plans for an enclosed system; I think this is something many people - who wouldn't otherwise want an open pile of decaying matter in their yard - would be extremely interested in having. She not only takes the concept of `living green' into account but aesthetics as well.

Good for the environment, less garbage trucked to landfills, readymade fertilizer for your garden - these are all benefits from the simple act of composting. Large yard or small plot and even no yard at all, "How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System: Secrets and Techniques You Need to Know to Grow the Best Vegetables" gives you the down and dirty on how to get started and do your part!

Reviewed by Vicki Landes, author of "Europe for the Senses - A Photographic Journal"
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