Composting Made Easy
Composting is easy and fun. It is also great for the environment, reducing trash in our landfills, and adding valuable nutrients to our soil. Using compost improves soil structure, texture, and aeration, as well as, increasing water-holding capacity. The organic matter in compost improves soil fertility, stimulating root growth, resulting in healthier plants.
What to do:
First, select your location. You want your compost bin/pile to be in a convenient location, but, out of the way with room to work. Try placing it next to your vegetable garden or perhaps in the back corner of your yard.
Second, either purchase or make your compost bin. There are lots of options for purchase, pick the one that suits your needs and your yard. To make your own bin, google composting bins on the internet. There are a plethera of options available, from grandiose to super basic, choose the option that fits your style and handyman skills.
What to compost:
Micro-organisms that recycle leaves and other plant material need an even mix of brown stuff (carbon) and green stuff (nitrogen). They also need air and water. Turn your pile as often as you can, this will help speed up the breakdown process. Keep your compost damp, but NOT wet. If the pile dries out the composting process will slow down. Bugs in your compost are good, they are helping the breakdown process. If you live in more northern climates, your pile will freeze over the winter and the composting process will stop. This is OK, in spring once the pile thaws, give it a stir and the process starts again.
Brown stuff (Carbon):
- Corn and sunflower stalks
- Dead vegetable garden plants, such as, peas, beans, potato, and tomato vines
- Dead leaves
- Pine needles (don’t add too much of these as they decompose slowly)
- Straw (not hay)
- Newspapers, shredded cardboard, brown paper bags
- Wood ash
- Bread crusts
- Dryer lint and vacuum cleaner bag contents
- Nut shells
- Paper towels
- Stale breakfast cereal
Green stuff (Nitrogen):
- Aquarium water, algae and plants
- Chicken manure
- Horse Manure
- Dead houseplants (don’t add anything diseased)
- Grass clippings (make sure to mix grass clippings with lots of brown material, or you will get a smelly pile)
- Manure from rabbits, gerbils, hamsters (as well as, wood or paper bedding material)
- Vegetable kitchen scraps (be sure to bury them in the pile so you do not attract animals)
- Egg shells
- Coffee grinds, tea bags/grounds, and unbleached filters
What NOT to add to your compost bin/pile:
- Meat and bones
- Pet Droppings
- Plant material treated with pesticides or herbicides
- Diseased plants
- Do not add weeds unless your pile gets good and hot or it will not kill the weed seeds
- Anything synthetic, including pesticides, herbicides, plastics, medicines, cleaning products (these will kill the microbes performing the composting process)
In order for a compost pile to decompose efficiently, you need to create the right ratio of brown (carbon) and green (nitrogen). Piles with too much green tend to be stinky, because the excess nitrogen produces ammonia gas. Brown rich piles break down very slowly because there is not enough nitrogen for the micro-organisms to thrive. Try to keep your compost pile within the ratio of 25-30 parts brown to 1 part green. But, do not allow the carbon/nitrogen ratio to deter you from composting. Just start throwing stuff in the pile. If it gets stinky you know to add some stuff from the audemars piguet royal oak replica watches brown list. If the pile is not decomposing fast enough, add stuff from the green list. Before you know it you will be enjoying rich dark brown compost that is high in the nutrients your plants need to grow strong and beautiful.