The (Not So) Secret Code of Composting
Composting is how you can recycle organic matter from food to lawn clippings. One of the many benefits of composting is that it keeps biodegradable materials out of the waste stream while adding beneficial nutrients to the soil. If you're curious about composting, here's a quick guide on how to get started.
You will need a minimum of a 3x3x3-foot area to start your compost pile or place your bin. Ideally, you’ll want the surface to be either dirt or grass that is conveniently located near a water faucet or hose and that also has some shade.
It’s important to have a good kitchen compost pail. Many are rust-proof and will have a lid that seals quickly and easily to keep out pests like fruit flies. You may also want to consider finding one that has a lid with air holes and a deodorizing filter to keep the scent of old fruits and vegetables inside the pail.
The Right Mix
The right mix is essential to the success of any composting pile. You will want to layer your brown and green waste material in a ratio of two- to three-parts brown waste to one-part green waste. Some good brown waste materials include fall leaves, small sticks, paper towels and napkins, hair and fur, cardboard and newspaper. Green waste materials include fruits and vegetables, bread, eggshells, coffee grounds, weeds and grass clippings.
Expert Tip: To kickstart your compost's microbial activity, toss in a shovelful of fresh, moist dirt from your yard or garden.
Not too Wet, Not too Dry
The moisture level is another important element to creating a good composting pile. You will want to make sure your pile stays damp—you do not want it to be too wet or dry. If it looks or sounds a little too dry and crisp in your compost pile, add water and/or more wet green waste. If it seems a little too wet and sloppy, add more dry brown waste.
Compost needs oxygen to break down the materials. Every couple of weeks, use a shovel to turn your compost pile. This will help to aerate the whole mix—the key to keeping it fresh-smelling and stimulating the soil microbes that are actively making your compost such excellent fertilizer.
In the end, compost takes time to develop, so just let it be. Then, when you're ready to use your compost to fertilize your garden or yard, your compost will be ready for you.
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