Learning how to compost may take some time to get it down to a science. Having access to home-grown organic produce is well worth the effort. Composting is the most environmentally responsible way of fertilizing for your garden, flower beds, and lawn.
Composting involves keeping organic waste in a compost pile. Bacteria and other microorganisms break down your waste and turn it into fertilizer. You can easily create your own compost pile at home.
Benefits of Composting
Turning Yard Waste into Mulch
Turning your yard waste into mulch is way more practical than to bag them and put them in the garbage. You should compost your grass clippings, leaves, plant cuttings, and other organic waste. Sometimes it may take less effort and money to put your yard waste into a compost pile than to dispose of them in the garbage.
Adding Nutrients to Your Soil
The soil in your yard feeds on organic waste from your compost pile. Your compost will help to increase a number of important microorganisms and nutrients in the soil, loosen the hard clay (that can inhibit plant growth) and improve your soil’s ability to hold moisture. As a result, your plants will grow in your soil and will produce more fruits and vegetables.
Not Adding to Landfills
When you compost your lawn and garden clippings and food scraps you save space in landfills.
How to Compost at Home
Compost requires three main ingredients:
- Browns – When you start to compost, you need to have “browns”. These items are dead leaves, branches, and or cardboard (the less printing on it the better). Browns supply carbon to your compost.
- Greens – When you start to compost “greens” of a compost are grass clippings, fruit and vegetable waste or any uneaten food. Greens contribute nitrogen to your compost.
- Water – Moisture is important to your compost pile. Moisture is essential for breaking down organic products in your compost.
When you compost outside, find a dry area that is near water. Place your organic materials in a pile or in a compost bin that you can either buy or make yourself. Compost bins are great if you’re throwing away food waste. When you compost your table scraps you will want to keep out animals and other pests. Shred or chop large pieces paper before placing them into the compost bin or pile. Add water to your compost bin or pile as you add more compostable ingredients. It may take a couple of months to a year before it turns into usable fertilizer. Turning or stirring your compost bin or pile materials every couple of weeks will speed up this process. You will know that your compost is fertilizer ready when the bottom layers are dark, crumbly, and richly colored.
If you’re short on outdoor space and want to compost inside your home, you can use an indoor compost bin or a worm composter. Throw your organic waste into the bin as you go. With indoor composting, your compost will be ready for use in about 2 to 5 weeks.
Composting Dos and Don’ts
In general, the following materials are good for composting:
- Cow or horse manure
- Clean paper and cotton products
- Coffee grounds with filters
- Lint, hair, and fur
- Healthy plant materials
- Wood chips and dust
The following products are not recommended for composting:
- Black walnut leaves or twigs
- Dairy products
- Diseased plants
- Meat bones or scraps or any fatty food
- Pet wastes
- Trimmings from a chemically treated yard