Take 10 Minutes to Get Started With Composting

Composting, simply put is the process of which a heap of green matter (leaves/food waste) breaks down to become humus which fuels plant growth and restores vitality to depleted soil. With that said, knowing how to compost will not only make your footprint greener, but it's free, its easy, and your plants will love you for it.

Benefits of Composting

#1 The creation of composted material acts as a soil conditioner and not only adds nutrients but helps the soil retain moisture.

#2 Composting can divert as much as 30% of household generated waste from landfills.

#3 It introduces beneficial organisms to the soil that help aerate and breakdown organic material for plant use. As well as, help ward off disease.

#4 It offers a natural alternative from chemical fertilizers.

 
Material
Carbon/Nitrogen
Info
 Table scraps
Nitrogen
 add with dry carbon items
 Fruit & vegetable scraps 
Nitrogen
 add with dry carbon items
 Eggshells
neutral
 best when crushed
 Leaves
Carbon
 leaves break down faster when shredded
 Grass clippings
Nitrogen
 add in thin layers so they don't mat into clumps
 Garden plants
--
 use disease-free plants only
 Lawn & garden weeds
Nitrogen
 only use weeds which have not gone to seed
 Shrub prunings
Carbon
 woody prunings are slow to break down
 Straw or hay
Carbon
 straw is best; hay (with seeds) is less ideal
 Green comfrey leaves
Nitrogen
 excellent compost 'activator'
 Pine needles
Carbon
 acidic; use in moderate amounts
 Flowers, cuttings
Nitrogen
 chop up any long woody stems 
 Seaweed and kelp
Nitrogen
 apply in thin layers; good source for trace minerals
 Wood ash
Carbon
 only use ash from clean materials; sprinkle lightly 
 Chicken manure
Nitrogen
 excellent compost 'activator'
 Coffee grounds 
Nitrogen
 filters may also be included
 Tea leaves
Nitrogen
 loose or in bags
 Newspaper
Carbon
 avoid using glossy paper and colored inks
 Shredded paper
Carbon
 avoid using glossy paper and colored inks
 Cardboard
Carbon
 shred material to avoid matting
 Corn cobs, stalks 
Carbon
 slow to decompose; best if chopped up
 Dryer lint
Carbon
 best if from natural fibers
 Sawdust pellets
Carbon
 high carbon levels; add in layers to avoid clumping
 Wood chips / pellets
Carbon
 high carbon levels; use sparingly

 

 

How to Compost

1. Start your compost pile on bare earth. This allows worms and other beneficial organisms to aerate the compost and be transported to your garden beds.

2. Lay twigs or straw first, a few inches deep. This aids drainage and helps aerate the pile.

3. Add compost materials in layers, alternating moist and dry. Moist ingredients are food scraps, tea bags, seaweed, etc. Dry materials are straw, leaves, sawdust pellets and wood ashes. If you have wood ashes, sprinkle in thin layers, or they will clump together and be slow to break down.

4. Add manure, green manure ( clover, buckwheat, wheatgrass, grass clippings) or any nitrogen source. This activates the compost pile and speeds the process along.

5. Keep compost moist. Water occasionally, or let rain do the job.

6. Cover with anything you have - wood, plastic sheeting, carpet scraps. Covering helps retain moisture and heat, two essentials for compost. Covering also prevents the compost from being over-watered by rain. The compost should be moist, but not soaked and sodden.

7. Turn. Every few weeks give the pile a quick turn with a pitchfork or shovel. This aerates the pile. Oxygen is required for the process to work, and turning "adds" oxygen. You can skip this step if you have a ready supply of coarse material, like straw.

Once your compost pile is established, add new materials by mixing them in, rather than by adding them in layers. Mixing, or turning, the compost pile is key to aerating the composting materials and speeding the process to completion.

Tips & Tricks 

  • You can also add garden soil, it will decrease composting time by adding micro-organisms and it will help mask smell.
  • Do not compost meat, bones or fish scraps (they will attract pests), perennial weeds (they can be spread with the compost) or diseased plants.
  • Do not not include pet manures in compost that will be used on food crops.
  • The soil beneath a compost bin becomes enriched as nutrients filter down with successive waterings. You can place your bin on a plot of earth which you plan to use for a future vegetable or flower bed, or fruit tree. Each year, you can move the bin to a different area; you'll get a double benefit - the compost from the bin, and a bed of nutrient-rich soil ready for new plantings.

 

Source: Earth Easy

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