A couple of weeks ago, we begged the question, What’s so Great about Composting?
Well this week, we’ll be providing you with some basic composting components to get your started with home-composting.
Concept of Composting
First things first, let’s review what, exactly, composting is: Compost is decomposed organic matter, typically your kitchen scraps and other materialsfound around your home, that would otherwise end up in a landfill, combined with water, to create a nutrient-rich, fertilizer, lovingly prepared by you. Composting is beneficial for both your garden and the planet.
**Soapbox warning** – About half of the 250 tons of trash that end up in our landfills every year, can be thrown into your compost pile instead. Basically, composting will make your garden, and then world, a better place. **Soapbox rant complete**
These are facts you can share with your neighbors while you’re
bragging sharing tips for getting flowers that look as amazing as the ones in your garden.
So now that you’re on-board, you might be wondering, “Ok, so how does this all work?”
Consequences of Composting
Hot Composting requires regular mixing, which will result in a higher compost-temperature which will, in turn, breakdown more quickly, give you faster results, and also provide benefits such as killing off soil-borne diseases and various bacteria. Not to mention, the frequent activity will ensure the smell is contained.
Cold Composting is much more leisurely which means less work for you. Who doesn’t love the sound of that? You’ll mix less often, add ingredients less often, and generally just deal with it less often. It will take much longer to get the final product and you open your garden/lawn up to the possibility of a “compost smell”.
Now that you have the basics on the background, you’re ready to get started!
Course on Composting
Location, Location, Location
Choose a nice, shaded, spot in your yard. You want to choose a space that is out of direct sunlight, as too much sunlight can dry out your compost. You also want to choose a spot that isn’t too wet as too much water will throw off the moisture level.
Know What to Throw….into Your Compost
You want to throw in a good mixture of “green” and “brown” elements into your compost pile. “Ummm…Wha, are “green” and “brown” compost elements?”
Green elements are going to be your kitchen scraps and maybe some living greenery you might have. These are the elements that provide the nitrogen for your compost.
Brown, or “carbon”, elements are items like newspaper, wood chips, dried grasses or leaves, etc.
Just as important as knowing what to compost, is knowing what NOT to compost. You never want to put in things like, plastic, dairy products of any kind, or any kind of meat or processed foods.
Lastly, you’ll need Water.
Now that you have all the ingredients for composting you might be wondering what to do with them. There are a couple of different ways to mix compost but the two easiest methods are with a Tumbler or an outdoor Bin.
The Tumbler will you get the quickest results and can be purchased at any Home Improvement store – the average price for these is about $200. You can also make your own for close to a third of the cost.
You’ll want to put in equal parts green and brown compost elements are enough water to thoroughly soak your composting ingredients without making it soup. You’ll need to mix your compost concoction at least three times a week, if not more.
The Outdoor Bin will require perhaps a smidge more attention and is probably better for those of you who have a little more space with which to work. Your bin should be built about 3’ deep x 3’ wide’ x about 3’ long. There are also DIY options for this method.
For outdoor bins, you’ll want to layer your greens and brown in an alternating pattern, the ideal ration being one part nitrogen to 25 parts carbon. Watering each layer before you add another is crucial here to ensure that everything is kept in balance. You’ll mix your ingredients with a shovel or a compost fork, a couple of times a week depending on how quickly you want your compost to decompose.
For those of you in more urban areas, here are some tips for Apartment Composting.
And that’s all she wrote, folks. I told you, composting is easy. Now get out there and start composting!
And if you have a question that wasn’t answered this time, just leave a comment on this post and we will be sure to either answer you directly or include it in our next Q & A blog post!