Shrink your waste stream and improve your soil!
Composting organic matter out of your kitchen or garden is a great way to reduce landfill volume and create a product that can help improve your garden’s texture, fertility and water holding capacity.
What is compost?
At its core, compost is simply broken down organic material that can be used to amend your soil to make it more suitable for plant growth.
How to compost:
There’s the million dollar question. There’s no one way to create a balanced compost, but regardless of method, knowing the basics is a great place to start.
Composting involves mixing the right organic materials, keeping it all slightly moist and regularly turning the pile to keep the mixture aerated. Aeration, along with the nutrients in your composting materials help to promote microorganism populations that do most of the breaking down of the organic matter.
- The right materials – kitchen scraps (vegetables, coffee grounds, egg shells – avoid meat products) and soft yard waste (weeds, grass clippings, leaves, spent flowers – avoid woody sticks)
- The right mixture – a hard balance but no less than or more than “green matter” or “brown matter”. Try to keep it to where neither brown nor green composes more than about 2/3 of your mixture individually.
Browns: Carbon-rich materials
- Typically dry, fibrous, and relatively resistant to decay.
- Helps to introduce air pockets in compost pile.
- Examples include: dead leaves, sawdust, dryer lint, straw, shredded paper, etc.
Greens: Nitrogen-rich materials
- Typically more moist and quicker to break down.
- Feeds the good bacteria in the compost.
- Examples include: grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, etc.
You’ll often read about the “browns greens ratio”. This is a hotly debated topic, but for your novice composter, you can follow this scientific test:
- Is your pile smelly? Add more Browns.
- Is your pile not heating up? Add more Greens.
- Turning the compost regularly will help to introduce oxygen to the decomposition process.
- The process of decomposition is exothermic (produces heat). A healthy compost pile can get up to 131° F or higher!.
- Getting your compost pile to reach sufficient temperature is important for killing weed seeds and some plant pathogens.
- Adding eggshells is a great way to add calcium to your compost. This helps plants to build sturdy cell walls.
- Shredding any fibrous material (paper, leaves, etc.) will aid decomposition.
- It’s advisable to bury your kitchen scraps about 10″ into the compost pile to mask their smell and avoid attracting uninvited critters.