How To Compost for Green Living
Learning how to compost is easy. Once you master a few tips and techniques, you will be able to turn your yard waste into valuable compost for your yard and garden.
Your compost has a few essential ingredients or requirements:
This is the basic building block or food for your compost. Most of your garden waste can be used, your green waste includes grass clippings, green leaves, green weeds, and vegetable scraps from the kitchen. The greens tend to be high in Nitrogen which acts as the fuel for your composting process.
The brown waste includes brown or dry leaves, wood chips, straw, and shavings. These are also an important ingredient in your compost as they provide an energy source for the microbes that will be doing all the work.
The best results come from a mix of both green and brown materials. This is the best way to maintain both air and moisture in your compost.
The composting microbes need moisture to work. You want your compost to be moist - but not wet. The ideal moisture level is like a sponge that has been wrung out. Too much moisture and you eliminate the air, too little and the microbes cannot do their work.
The microbes that do all the work are aerobic, meaning they need air to survive and thrive. The brown materials like wood chips and straw will help provide airways in your compost. This is also why we often recommend that you turn the compost pile - using a spading fork to break it apart and fluff it up. This is especially important if you have a lot of green material like grass clippings in the pile.
If you have the right materials, air, and moisture then the microbes should provide the warmth. The more heat you have, the faster you will produce good compost. If you live in a very cold climate, your microbes will stop working in the winter - but that's o.k. As soon as it warms up in spring they will start again, as long as they have air and moisture.
These are the basics for how to compost. It really is quite easy! Now for a few more tips:
You don't need any special equipment - simple compost piles have worked for a long time and will provide good quality compost. If you notice a putrid smell, then you need to turn the pile to get more air into it.
To get a really hot pile that turns to compost quickly, it needs to be at least one cubic yard in size. This will allow a large enough microbe population to generate some real heat. This will make you feel like a real pro at how to compost
If you are limited on space, or if the idea of a big pile in the yard doesn't work for you, there are many fine compost bins on the market that will keep the "mess" confined and out of sight. Make sure it allows for plenty of air flow into the compost. Some are configured like a barrel that can be turned easily which makes it even easier.
Avoid using pet waste in your compost. There is conflicting research on how safe this is - but you don't want the compost from pet waste used on vegetables or anywhere that people could come in direct contact with it. This greatly limits the usefulness of your compost.
Your compost is finished and ready to use when it is a dark brown color and has a nice earthy smell. You will not be able to recognize most of the original ingredients, although a few leaves will not hurt anything.
Now that you know how to compost, let's get started. There is no need to let your valuable garden waste ever enter the landfills again. Your home made compost will be a valuable addition to your soil. Use it to mix into the soil prior to planting, or as a mulch to help conserve water. Your compost will make it easier to grow healthy plants and contribute to green living!
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