Composting yard, garden, and food waste at home saves transportation and disposal cost, and provides an environmentally sound way to manage waste, since yard waste makes up to 30% of the municipal solid waste stream. In addition, composting can provide excellent fertilizer for gardens, yards, and other plants. Adding compost to your garden will increase drainage and provide a continuous source of major and minor nutrients required for plant health.
How to Compost
Composting is a natural process and can occur with minimal work. Simply tossing grass clippings, brush, and kitchen waste in a pile will produce compost in the pile within a year or two. However, if you would like to see faster results, using a compost bin or turning the pile every so often will speed up the process. Compost needs greens (grass clippings, weeds, coffee grounds and other kitchen waste) browns (wood chips, leaves, straw, dead leaves, cardboard, paper) oxygen (turn the pile every few days) and water (don’t let it dry out, but typically it will remain moist enough). If turned every few days, you can produce quality compost in 3-4 weeks.
Strive to maintain a 3:1 ratio of brown to green materials in the pile. A pile that doesn’t heat up within 24 hours (you can see steam rising from the pile) needs more green material and a pile that develops an ammonia smell needs more brown material. The pile should only be damp, it should not be soaking wet. Animals will typically stay away if there are no meat or dairy products in the pile.
What to use:
|Materials to Compost|
|Browns = High Carbon||Greens = High Nitrogen|
|Corn stalks||Coffee grounds|
|Fruit waste||Food waste|
|Newspaper, shredded||Grass clippings|
|Peat moss||Hedge clippings|
|Pine needles||Hops, used|
|Stems and twigs||Seaweed|
*Avoid weeds that have gone to seed, as seeds may survive all but the hottest compost piles.
What not to use:
Coal ash, colored paper, diseased plants, inorganic material, meat, bones, fats, dairy, pet droppings, and synthetic chemicals.
It is not necessary to have a bin, however, it can make it easier to turn the pile, keep the pile manageable, and remove finished compost. You can make your own bin out of wood or fencing and posts. Other types of bins include rolling bins, tumblers, enclosed bins, and worm bins.