Putting those old, dried-out leaves and vegetables you’ve gathered to good use will not only keep them out of the garbage can but will also improve the quality of your garden.
This simple step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know to start composting.
What type of composter should I use?
There are a few ways to compost, and if you’re new to it, you might be unsure of which method is best for your needs. The first thing you need to do is determine how much space you have and how often you plan on composting. In addition, think about whether or not you need any extra tools—some composter models require extra ingredients like soil or leaves. That’s why we recommend that beginners consider buying a simple bin with a lid, which can be used indoors or outdoors.
Is it gross?
Most people have a misconception about composting. In reality, it’s nothing like what you see in TV shows like Breaking Bad, which is essentially a torture device for rodents. There are two main reasons why people don’t start composting: They think it’s gross or they don’t know how to get started. But here’s some good news: It doesn’t have to be either of those things! You can easily create your compost bin that won’t smell and will do wonders for your garden.
How to get started
It’s simple to start composting at home—especially if you’re already set up with other green resources, like solar panels and a rain barrel. If you live in an apartment or condominium, however, it might be more difficult to get started. But don’t worry! There are tons of ways you can compost without much space at all. If you have access to a small balcony or sunny windowsill—or even some pots on your porch—you can get started right away! Just remember that it takes time for decomposition to occur (so don’t expect results overnight). Good luck with your new composting efforts and have fun getting started!
Which foods can I add?
Various organic materials can be composted such as food scraps, yard clippings, and so on.
We’ve created a list of things that can be composted.
fruit and vegetable peels and scraps
rotten fruit and veggies
coffee grounds and paper filters
nutshells (apart from walnuts)
hair and fur
paper, cardboard, and shredded newspaper
napkins, paper towels, and unused toilet paper
When should I turn my compost?
Where should I put my compost? Most municipalities have rules about where you can place your compost. If you’re concerned about how close your compost is to food or animals, then consider building a small compost bin on your balcony or in your backyard. Just make sure it’s out of reach of children and pets!
Once you’ve figured out where you’re going to put your compost, it’s time to find some materials. Try using a combination of brown and green waste. Brown waste includes woody plants like corn stalks and dried leaves that can be easily broken down by microorganisms in your compost bin. On the other hand, green waste—food scraps and kitchen scraps in particular—contain nitrogen-rich ingredients which help speed up bacterial growth. Don’t forget about soil too!
Mix Up Your Ingredients
After selecting a spot for your compost pile, you’re able to add materials.
It’s advised to alternate layers of green and brown materials to create layers in the compost. Green materials consist of food and yard scraps, while brown materials include branches, paper, straw, and wood chips. Layers aren’t necessary but will help to ensure that you have a good balance of green and brown materials that promote optimum decomposition.
First, create a 4-inch-thick (10-cm) layer of loosely placed brown and green materials at the bottom of your pile to ensure aeration and drainage. Alternate your brown and green layers until your bin is full. Make sure to add water to each layer to keep it moist.
Turn the pile regularly
To make your compost more efficient, rotate it frequently. To do so, turn it with a shovel or pitchfork, which spreads air and moisture.
The best way to turn your compost depends on the size of the pile, how wet the mix is, and the ratio of brown to green matter. Try turning your pile of compost every four to seven days. As it starts to mature, you might need to turn it off less often.
Even though rain should provide most of the moisture, the compost pile may need a bit of water. Should the pile get soggy, the additional brown material or turning it more often should resolve the issue.
Utilize your compost
Decomposition can take a few weeks to a year, depending on many factors, including the size of the pile, the materials used, moisture levels, and the climate.
To hasten to compost, rotate the pile frequently, keep it moist, and finely shred leaves, paper, and other plant-based scraps. When it’s time to start using your compost, it should look dark brown and crumbly, be reminiscent of soil, and have a strong, earthy smell with few if any large chunks. One of the ways you can utilize compost is by adding it to your potting soil. Or you can mix it into the top layer of your garden, or you can use it to replace the mulch.
It is also possible to brew your compost tea by steeping the plant in water for 24–48 hours, then straining the mixture and using it as a fertilizer that provides essential nutrients to plants.
The essence of it
By turning your food waste into compost, you are creating a productive tool that can help the environment in two ways. Weeds not only keep the soil loose, but it also fertilizes, prevent erosion, and even reduce the need for chemicals in your garden. Another benefit is that it’s simple and easy to do indoors or outdoors.
When deciding how to compost, consider your space and how much food waste you produce.