Composting Basics

Compost BinCompost epitomizes the creativity and fertility of the Earth, where grass clippings, wood ash, apple cores, and egg shells magically transform into fertile, rich soil. Like soil, compost is a knot of many interconnected relationships, illustrating the infinite creativity of the Earth. The word compost comes from the Latin componere, “to put together.” This “black gold” of waste, water, air, and micro-organisms perform a juicy process that yields fertile soil.

While you can purchase compost from garden centers, making your own saves money and connects you directly with your garden. Creating your own compost not only ensures that you know exactly what goes into your soil- commercial compost is not regulated in many states and can include just about anything, including high-salt manure and weed seeds- it also establishes an immediate relationship between you and your garden as your trees, vegetables, flowers, and lawn benefit directly from your actions.

Composted Kitchen WasteSome of your household waste and the waste from your yard directly nourishes your garden, the food that grows there, and your body, soul, and community. Composting reduces our negative impact on the land by keeping kitchen and yard waste out of landfills. By composting, you participate in nature’s laws of cycling and recycling.

Beginning the soil-building process with compost is a crucial first step in building a healthy garden, as compost boosts soil nutrient levels, encourages beneficial bacteria, and improves soil condition. Additional fertilizers cannot be absorbed by plants without help from soil micro-organisms, and soil micro-organisms need lots or organic matter to thrive. By starting with rich compost, you create a habitat where micro-organisms can help plants absorb whatever they need.

Usually compost provides a balance of nitrogen, carbon, calcium, and other nutrients, but you may need to add additional fertilizer for certain crops known as heavy feeder, those plants that require large amounts of certain nutrients. (Compost is not, strictly speaking, a fertilizer. Fertilizers feed plants, while amendments, like compost, feed soil.)

Mature CompostTo make your own compost, you need a bin of at least three cubic feet large that allows for air flow. Old crates, 3/4 inch wire mesh, and other strong but open materials make the best walls for a compost bin. You can also build it out of a clean food- grade 50-gallon drum on a tumbler that you rotate daily; or take an old garbage can, drill holes in the sides for air flow, and bury the bottom a few feet in the ground. You can also simply create a pile in the corner of the garden. Choose a location that is handy to get to from the kitchen and the garden alike, and one that is easily accessible by water. If you have room, build several bins or piles and fill them one at a time.

In your bin or pile, layer grass clippings that have not been treated with chemicals, small amounts of leaf waste, wood ash, soils, herbivore feces, and kitchen scraps. Brown matter like dried grass, leaves, or sawdust provides carbon, while green matter like fresh leaves and kitchen waste provides nitrogen. Manure is, despite its color, a “green” compost material, and it is very high in nitrogen.

You need a balance of carbon, nitrogen, water, and air to create the ideal condition for compost; most garden and kitchen waste is too high in carbon to decay rapidly, so adding a source of nitrogen like manure will help speed up the composting process. If you don;t live near and farms or horse stables, manure and other nitrogen-rich amendments can be purchased at garden centers prebagged or in bulk.

A Compost HeapMake sure your pile stays moist, about as wet as a rung out sponge. Turn it periodically to aerate and mix the ingredients. If you have a problem with neighborhood animals like dogs or raccoons, make sure you have a door and a solid latch on your bin to keep them out.

I do not add citrus or onions to my compost, for they tend to slow the decay process or simply decay more slowly than the rest of the pile, but if your pile generates enough heat and has just the right conditions, this will matter less. Do not add dog or cat feces, they can contain disease bacteria. Do not add butter, other oils, or meat, all of which can rot anaerobically and attract pests, from salmonella to rats. Do not include diseased plants, noxious weeds, invasive vines, or seeds.

If you have a lot of resinous matter like pine needles, use them to mulch around acid-loving plants like strawberries rather than include it in the compost, as it will slow or halt the decay. Same with cedar shavings; use these as mulch only where you don’t want other plants to grow, and never put them in your compost.

This article is an excerpt from Sacred Land by Clea Danaan

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Using the Aromatherapy Basic Care Kit

This post will show you how The Aromatherapy Basic Care Kit can be used to treat a wide variety of health problems, and the proper applications of oils for specific treatments.

Remember to check my previous post about using essential oils safely here before using any of the remedies below.

This is a very large post, if looking for a certain problem try using ctrl+f to find it quickly.

Abdominal Pain: Abdominal Pain should be checked by a doctor if it persists or increases in intensity because it could be appendicitis or another condition that needs to be properly diagnosed.

Upper Abdominal Area: Apply the following oil over the painful area in a clockwise motion.

3 drops Peppermint
2 drops Clove
diluted in 1 teaspoon carrier oil

Lower Abdominal Area: Apply the following oil over the painful area in a clockwise motion.

2 drops Thyme
3 drops Eucalyptus
diluted in 1 teaspoon carrier oil

Abrasions: Clean the area well with 5 drops of Lavender diluted in a bowl of warm water. Apply one neat drop of Lavender and leave to heal.

Abscesses: Make a compress by submerging a gauze pad into warm water and ringing until slightly damp. Apply the following oils and secure to the area of swelling twice a day using a bandage.

2 drops Lavender
2 drops Tea Tree
3 drops Chamomile

Dental Abscesses: Put 1 drop of Chamomile on a cotton ball and apply directly to the abscess. Also rub over the jaw and cheek area with the following oil.

3 drops Lavender
2 drops Tea Tree
diluted in 1 teaspoon carrier oil.

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The Aromatherapy Basic Care Kit

If I had to choose the ten most versatile and useful essential oils for the average home medicine cabinet, these would be they. Although these oils are chosen first for their medicinal properties and their ability to deal with a wide range of health complaints, you will find they are useful for a diversity of purposes from skin care to gardening and from home care to celebrations. The treatments outlined in this section are straightforward yet effective. Other useful additions to your care kit would be aloe vera, witch hazel, and rosewater.


This oil is capable of many important jobs and is a delight to use. Every home should have a bottle of lavender, if no other oil, because it is so very effective in the treatment of burns and scalds.Lavender Flowers Lavender oil is a natural antibiotic, antiseptic, antidepressant, sedative, and detoxifier which promotes healing and prevents scarring, and also stimulates the immune system and contributes to the healing process by stimulating the cells of a wound to regenerate more quickly. Although not known specifically as a circulatory stimulant, lavender oil certainly seems to allay the effects of clinical shock and as a mood tonic and antidepressant it helps to deal with the psychological shock of injury. It also has a multitude of other qualities which make it a truly indispensable oil.

Tea Tree

Tea Tree BlossomsThe antiseptic action of tea tree is thought to be one hundred times more powerful than carbolic acid- yet it is non-poisonous to humans! The Aborigines have been using this indigenous Australian tree in their medications for centuries, and today tea tree is the subject of a great deal of international research. Its impressive antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties make it useful in a wide range of conditions. It is used in the treatment of candida and all sorts of infections, for ringworm, sunburn, acne, athlete’s foot, toothache, and pyorrhea, among other things.


Peppermint LeavesThis herb has been used by many ancient cultures, including the Egyptians, Chinese, and American Indians, no doubt because of its extremely useful health-promoting properties. It is an excellent digestive, it helps the respiratory system and circulation, it is an anti-inflammatory, and an antiseptic. These qualities make it a good oil in the treatment of indigestion, flatulence, bad breath, flu, catarrh, varicose veins, headaches and migraines, skin irritations, rheumatism, toothache, and fatigue. It even keeps mice, fleas, and ants away!


There are several types of chamomile essential oil. German Chamomile is an excellent variety and its beautiful deep dark blue color, due to its high azuline content, comes as a bonus. Another excellent variety, Roman Chamomile, is particularly good for the treatment of nervous conditions and insomnia. Beware of Chamomile Maroc (Ormensis multicaulis) which is not a tue chamomile and cannot be used as such

German ChamomileAlthough chamomile is anti-bacterial, antiseptic, and disinfectant, it is most valued for its anti-inflammatory properties.  These apply to internal conditions like rheumatism, as well as external inflammations. Chamomile is indispensable if you have children because it can be used for teething troubles and in the bath to ease nerves and tetchiness.

Chamomile is used in the treatment of burns including sunburn, psoriasis,   eczema, asthma, hay fever, diarrhea, sprains and strains, nausea, fever, and all nervous and depressive states. Its analgesic, diuretic, sedative, and calming properties make chamomile an extremely desirable oil. For kicking the tranquilizer habit it is invaluable, and in anorexia nervosa it is extremely helpful. As if this weren’t enough, chamomile is used in rejuvenation treatments.


Eucalyptus has been distilled from at least 1788 when two doctors, John White and Dennis Cossiden, distilled Eucalyptus piperata for its use in treating chest problems and colic. This was in Australia where the Blue Mountains of New South Wales are so called because of the extraordinary blue haze that exudes from the resin of the eucalyptus gum, Eucalyptus Leavesand envelops the whole landscape. In such a powerfully aromatic environment, the medicinal qualities of this ancient tree would be hard to miss.

Eucalyptus is a marvelously versatile and useful oil. It cools the body in summer and protects in winter. It is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibiotic, diuretic, analgesic, and deodorizing. Research has proved its antiviral properties as well. It is best known for its effectiveness against coughs and colds but is equally effective in the treatment of cystitis, candida, diabetes, and sunburn, while also being useful in veterinary care and as an insect repellent. There is a wide range of eucalyptus varieties, any one of which would be a useful addition to the Basic Care Kit.


Geranium is one of my favorite oils because it works profoundly on the emotions and is useful in many medical conditions -and smells wonderful while it works so hard. The oil is not extracted from the species Pelargonium -Geranium Robert or “lemon plant”- which is very often displayed in abundance in Greek restaurants.

Rose GeraniumGeranium will make chilblains disappear overnight and brings a radiant glow when used in skin care. More importantly, it is a vital component in the treatment of endometriosis , is very effective for menopausal symptoms, diabetes, blood disorders, throat infections, and as a nerve tonic, and works as a sedative. It is reputed to help in cases of uterine and breast cancer and if nothing else, would certainly help the patient to relax and cope with the pain.

Geranium has many applications, from frostbite to infertility, and its antiseptic and astringent properties contribute to its usefulness. Its delightful floral fragrance makes it a pleasure to use, either on its own or as a contributory oil in a blend.


Rosemary BlossomsRosemary is both a physical and mental stimulant, which makes it a good oil to have in the morning bath, while also being excellent in the treatment of all muscular conditions, making it the perfect herb for a bath after a long tiring day. This antiseptic oil is used in the treatment of muscular sprains, arthritis, rheumatism, depression, fatigue, memory loss, migraine, headaches, cough, flu, and diabetes among other conditions. It is also very useful in beauty treatments, being used in hair care, as well as acne and cellulite remedies. For the sportsman, cook, and gardener, rosemary is invaluable.


There are many types of thyme, some of which can be used safely in all situations and some which cannot. Thyme has notable antiviral, antibiotic, antiseptic, and diuretic properties and should be used with great care. Thyme FlowersOveruse of it can stimulate the thyroid gland and the lymphatic system. Like many good things, it must be used in moderation. It should never be applied to the skin undiluted and should not be used on children unless in the chemo-type Thyme Linalol.

Thyme is a vital component of the Basic Care Kit because of its powerful antiviral properties. When flu is around it is a wonderful oil to have on the room diffuser. It assists in the elimination of toxic wastes from the body. It is used in the treatment of a wide range of conditions including whooping cough, warts, rheumatism, neuralgia, fatigue, and acne. It is also extremely useful in antiseptic powders, hair and skin regimes, and cooking. Just to make it a perfect all-rounder, thyme will discourage all manner of parasites and insects from your home.


When our adventurous seafaring ancestors sailed the high seas, fresh lemons saved them from getting scurvy. For modern stay-at-homes, the essential oil of Lemonslemon is just as useful as a water purifier. This antiseptic and antibacterial oil will perform many tasks when used in blends, including treating verrucas, insect bites, and tension headaches. It has a tonic action on the lymphatic system and a stimulating action on the digestive system. It will assist you to slim, help disperse cellulite, and keep wrinkles at bay. Its contribution to synergy makes it particularly useful in blends, while it is indispensable as fragrance and flavoring agent.


Clove oil is antibacterial, antiseptic, and analgesic and is a good oil for the Whole Clovesprevention of disease and infection. Being a spice, it can easily be incorporated into your cooking. It is best known as a quick cure for toothache although it is equally useful in digestive problems and muscular disorders. It can be used in the treatment of asthma, nausea, and sinusitis, and as a sedative. Clove is a powerful oil that has been used in the sterilization of surgical instruments. It should not be used undiluted on the skin.

Be sure to view my previous post on safely using essential oils here.

For uses of the Aromatherapy Basic Care Kit click here.

This article is a collection of excerpts from:

The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood

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