Scared to try composting? Not sure where to begin? We’ve compiled all of the information you need to know to get started. It’s a little daunting at first, but trust me, it soon becomes second nature and in one year, your garden will be thanking you with a bountiful harvest. What are you waiting for? Let’s start composting!
When we moved to the Homestead, I never thought that I would be composting. After a few years, it was time to learn. I dug into the research and after a lot of trial and error, we finally started. It’s a little gross and smelly, but the end result is worth it. Here’s the 101 on everything you need to know.
What is Compost and How Does it Work?
Americans are wasteful by nature. Composting is a way to take your waste and scraps and turn it into a rich soil additive to help turn your garden into a bountiful harvest. It helps to bring vital nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen to your soil. It helps your soil with aeration, tilth, erosion, weed control, and water retention.
Your compost pile can be as big or as small as you want. Don’t get caught up on the size. Start with what works best for your space and your family. And start with the expectations that it’s going to take some time for the compost to work its magic. You aren’t going to have your compost in a week or month. A year is more like it.
The best place to keep your compost is in a sunny spot. It’s recommended south-facing, but full sun is more important.
- Gather the scraps on your counter.
- Empty the scraps into a composting container.
- Once a week, spin the container.
- Once the scraps have broken down, transfer into a pile.
- Use the compost in your garden.
One surprised guest to your compost bin might be the addition of maggots. Yes, they are gross. Yes, they make you squeamish. But they break down your waste like no body’s business. They are your best little workers and you don’t even have to pay them. Well, except for some scraps. They will “hibernate” during the cooler months, and die in the cold and freezing temperatures.
Green vs Brown Materials
You can throw in your scraps and waste as-is. But the smaller they are, the faster they will break down. The materials you want to compost fall into “green” and “brown” materials. Green provides the nitrogen, and brown provides the carbon. Try and keep the balance to twice as much brown material as green material. Also add in some water, to keep the pile moist. It’s a delicate balance. Keep an eye on your compost as you add to the pile and see if it needs more green, brown, or water.
If the compost is too wet from rain or snow, add more brown materials to absorb the moisture.
Coffee, grounds, filters
Tea, tea bags
Manure from herbivores (horses, gerbils, etc)
Dirty fish tank water
Brown paper bags
Newspaper (not colored or glossy)
Toilet paper and paper towel cardboard centers
Paper products – paper towels, napkins, paper
Pet or human hair
Cardboard egg cartons
Leftover water from steaming vegetables
Dirty fish water
Regular ole water works too
Salty, greasy, fatty foods
The inside of eggs
Human, cat or dog waste
Plastics and metals
Citrus fruits – lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits
Tools for Composting
You can use a Mason Jar or a bowl to herd the scraps before sending them outside. I use a bowl when I’m cutting up the produce for the week since it’s a large number of scraps at once. But for our day to day, I keep the scraps in a pretty ceramic container. It has a replaceable charcoal filter to help with the smell, and you can also pick up some biodegradable bags. Then it’s easy to carry the container outside and just place everything, bag included, into the bin.
There are a few things to keep in mind when looking at compost bins. You want to ensure it has enough space. You’ll need to mix it up, either by spinning or with a pitchfork. You’ll need ease of use in getting the waste in and compost out. And you’ll need adequate ventilation.
Are you Inspired?
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Love, hugs, and waste not, want not.HERE.