Home Composting 101

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According to the EPA, 24 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream is composed of food remnants and yard trimmings. If these materials were diverted to another use that kept them out of the trash, a significant portion of the country’s everyday waste could be recovered for reuse.

COMPOSTING: A natural process that turns organic material into a dark rich substance called compost or humus.

Composting Infographic by Organic Lesson
Source: OrganicLesson.com

Why should you compost?

Healthier Plants
The organic matter contained in compost helps soil hold on to water and nutrients, allowing your plants to grow bigger and stronger.

Save $$$$
Using homemade compost rich with nutrients eliminates the need for you to purchase additional products for your garden or flower beds.

Practicality and Convenience
You no longer need to bag your leaves, grass clippings and other yard waste. Simply add these items to your compost pile.

Alternative to Landfilling or Incinerating
Yard waste accounts for nearly 20% of the material in our landfills. Composting eliminates the need to burn or landfill these materials.

What should you compost?

Greens and browns! The microbes responsible for the composting process require nitrogen for growth and carbon for energy. Fresh, green materials tend to be high in nitrogen, and dry, brown materials are generally high in carbon. A proper blend of greens and browns will allow the microbes in your compost pile to thrive. Follow this general rule of thumb:

1 part green material + 3 parts brown material = rich compost!

The following chart should help you determine what should and should not be included in your compost heap.

How should you compost?

There are many different types of composting bins and containers available to choose from. All types of containers will help to yield rich compost as long as the material is properly maintained. The following are just a few examples of composting containers:

Heap Composting

The simplest way to compost requires no container at all. This is called heap composting, and is maintained by pilling materials on top of each other until a large mound is created. This method works best if the pile is approximately 6′ by 6′, but can be as small as 3′ by 3′.

Wood Bins

Open-air wood bins can be built at minimal costs with lumber by-products. These four-sided bins help to contain your compost pile while still allowing for oxygen to circulate.

Plastic bins

Open-air plastic bins provide the same conainment and oxygen flow as do open-air wood bins. These containers are often made from recycled plastic.

Cinder Block Bins

Open-air cinder block bins provide containment and air circulation, just as the open air wood and plastic bins. This three-sided container allows for easy access to turn and/or harvest the compost.