How-To Get Your Compost Started

Composting is great on so many levels. It’s easier on the environment, directly and indirectly, and it gives you options when it comes to organic farming. Plus, almost anything “green” can go in it and you can do it whether you live in a house or apartment!

When composting in your backyard, you will want to choose a spot that is sunny and convenient to get to all year-round. Your compost should contain two main types of organic matter: one is called “greens”, while the other is known as “browns”.

Here is a chart that shows what each are:

Greens

Browns

Vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds & filters, tea leaves, garden waste, fresh weeds (without seeds), fresh grass clippings

Dry leaves, straw, dry hay, sawdust, raw/natural woodchips, twigs, dried grass clippings, dried weeds (without seeds), dirt

Now you must choose what kind and where you will place that you will put the pile. As previously stated, you will need a sunny spot that is easy accessible. Another thing to consider is the container. Some people choose to dig a hole, some people just put it in a spot around their yard, but most people make or purchase a bin for it. This is the most common way.

Normally, the container would be wooden, with a lid that opens and closes.

Once you have crafted your container, put it in the selected spot, and gathered your green and brown organic matter, you are ready to start your compost pile.

Below is the general idea of how you will pile your compost pile:

Brown

Brown

Green

Brown

Brown

Notice that the bottom layer is brown, the center is green, and then the pile is topped with brown. Also, notice that there is twice as much brown than there is green. This is done on purpose. The greens are wet matter that is rich in nitrogen, while the brown matter is dry and rich in carbon. The two combined make great fertilizer.

In addition to the above materials, you can also add eggshells (not the inners), wood ash, plain rice and pasta, bread, wool, hair, and cotton. Remember, the larger the material, the longer it will take to compost.

As is, composting can take months, or it can take a few years.

Tip: One way to speed up the process, is to increase the oxygen levels. Turning the pile with a pitchfork every so often will move the sediment around and create air holes and pockets. Doing this 3-5 times a week could finalize your compost with 3-5 months, while doing every other week can have it ready in about 6 months.

Remember, when composting, not everything can just be thrown in the bin. Some items you should not include are: eggs (shells are okay), fish, dairy products, anything oily, meat, pet or human waste, anything with seeds, infected plants or material, plastic, metals, synthetic things. These items either cannot be composted, or would have a negative effect on your compost.

Tip: If you plan on composting year-round, make sure to keep some dry leaves in a bin, so that you can throw them on top of the pile as you compost during the wetter months.

But how do you know when it’s done?

Well, it varies, but generally when the compost is dark brown, smells like soil, and crumbles with a touch it is done.

How will I know if it’s not ready?

You will know if your compost isn’t ready is you can still see, feel, or smell the food content, if the compost pile is warm, or if there are a lot of larger-sized clumps. If it has fruit pits or twigs, it’s still ready, but you should sift through those things before you use it in your garden.

Otherwise, you can harvest in the fall, spread over your ideal and preferred places, and watch it until Spring, when you plant your first round of new seedlings. Finished compost can be used for many purposes, both indoors and outdoors. Creating and harvesting your own compost means you’ll never have to buy it again! Money saver!

Thank you for reading my article today. As always, if you have a comment, please leave it below; or if you have a suggestion on a topic, please contact me via the contact page above!

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