Why Compost at
your wastes into a valuable soil amendment that can be used to
improve your soil and plantings.
Disposal of leaves,
grass, clipping and other yard waste is a problem for homeowners.
Yard and food waste
make up 30% of the solid waste stream in the U.S.
Composting is easy,
requiring minimal amounts of space and effort.
Ten Steps to Home
Selecting a location
– You don’t need much space for this project, an area as small as 6’
by 6’ is plenty. If you plan to compost in the winter, choose a
sunny spot, otherwise a location with some shade will help to keep
the compost moist during the summer months.
– You can purchase a ready made bin or build one yourself out of
basic material(s). The simplest enclosure made of 3’ wide, 1” wire
mesh, formed into a 3’ diameter circle, securing the ends to one
another using wooden stakes for support. Another easy enclosure is
by reusing four old shipping pallets, secured side to side, making a
Filling the bin – All organic matter, things that were once alive or
come from living things is compostable. This includes yard waste
such as leaves and grass clippings, kitchen wastes such as fruit and
vegetable leavings, coffee grounds, tea leaves, egg shells, etc. DO
NOT compost animal products such as meat, bones, fat, grease or pet
Efficient composting – Any combination of organic materials will
eventually degrade. For a higher quality product, use a mixture of
compatible material. Rule-of-thumb, mix equal parts of BROWN (dry
leaves, straw, sawdust, etc.) with GREEN (grass clippings, garden
weeks, kitchen scraps) ingredients and shred or cut larger materials
for quick composting. Keep kitchen scraps on the inside of the pile
to decompose faster.
Let’s get started – When combining your BROWN and GREEN ingredients,
you should add a shovel or two of soil, this will add microbes into
the mix to facilitate the decomposing process. Also, add a small
amount of water, you want the compost to be slightly moist, the
microbes work better in this environment.
Heat – After a week, check to see if the pile is heating up. This is
part of the composting process. The center may get as hot as 150
degrees F. If the center isn’t warmer than the outside of the pile,
you may need to add more GREEN materials to get the process started.
Turn the pile – Composting works best under oxygen-rich conditions.
The pile should be turned at least once a week with a shovel or
pitchfork. This will ensure that all the ingredients are thoroughly
mixed and will become completely broken down.
Troubleshooting – Odors stem from two possible problems: too much
GREEN, or not enough oxygen. In either case, immediately turn the
pile to introduce more oxygen. If the problem is too much GREEN, add
more BROWN material(s). An overly wet pile may also cause bad odors,
if so, use less water.
Compost – After three to ten weeks and many turnings, your compost
should be dark, moist, crumbly and ready to use.
Using your compost – Technically, compost is not fertilizer, it is
an excellent soil amendment that improves the structure and quality
of your soil. Use your compost in garden beds to increase soil
porosity and aeration, around shrubs to keep weeds at a minimum and
help retain moisture.