In recent years, composting has become an increasingly popular method of diverting organic materials from landfills and recycling them into nutrients for gardens. If you are looking to start composting at your home, then you will need to understand how it works, how to start, and how to successfully maintain your pile. You can compost with ease by adhering to the following tips:
Know where and how to start.
In order to make the most out of your compost pile, you will need to know how to start one and where to put it. The optimal location for a compost pile is outside on the ground, preferably in a flat spot that contains ample drainage. This will enable organisms such as worms to enter the pile and begin breaking down the materials contained within them.
Once you select a location, you will need to determine how you will begin building your compost pile. To expedite the process of biodegradation, you should aim for a pile that is 3 feet in depth, height, and width. You can build your own basic compost container out of materials such as wood pallets, trash receptacles, and cinderblocks. Otherwise, you should consider purchasing one of the numerous styles of ready-made bins available on the market. They are typically available in one of two styles: stationary and tumbler. Simply do some research to see which type of bin will best suit your composting needs.
Add the right materials.
Once you have a compost bin set up, you will need to begin filling it. As such, you must understand the various do’s and don’ts of what to add to your compost pile. You can put all manner of kitchen scraps and yard trimmings into your pile. “Greens” such as peels from produce, plant trimmings, and tea bags all make great additions to a compost bin because they degrade quickly and add a good amount of nitrogen to the pile. You will also need to add carbon-filled “browns” to your compost pile. This category includes everything from eggshells and animal fur to dried leaves and paper. You can also add waste from farmyard animals to your compost pile to incorporate even more nutrients.
When building your compost pile, you should also remain mindful of those items and materials that you should never add. You should keep anything from the meat and dairy categories out of the compost bin and put it in the trash can. Although you can incorporate some plants and trimmings, you should not add any type of weeds to your pile. Moreover, you should never add pet waste, as this can invite pests into your compost bin.
Shred what you plan to compost.
It’s not enough to simply pack all of your compost into a large pile. In order to help the materials break down more quickly, you will need to make sure that your bin has proper aeration. To this end, you will need to shred or cut most of the materials that you plan to compost. This is a particularly important step to take when you are adding brown materials such as paper, cardboard, and leaves to your pile. These items are inherently more difficult to break down, so cutting them into smaller pieces will hasten the composting process. When in doubt, remember that smaller is better. Make sure that all items are 2 inches or shorter before putting them into your compost pile.
Maintain the right balance.
When looking to create the best-quality compost, you will need to create a perfect balance of green and brown materials. If you add too much of one type of material, then your entire pile may fail to degrade. In order to provide the best environment for composting, you should create an almost equal ratio of materials throughout the pile.
When you initially build your pile, you should add greens and browns in thin layers to ensure a proper balance. As your compost pile continues to grow, you should incorporate these two types of material together. This will help maintain the balance of moisture and allow for more airflow.
Monitor the moisture.
Moisture plays a large role in the decomposition of your compost. As such, you will need to closely monitor the consistency of your mixture to determine whether it is too wet or too dry. A proper balance of green and brown materials will help your compost remain moist, but you may also need to add water to it on a regular basis. In general, you should aim for a moisture composition of between 50 and 60 percent.
Turn it frequently.
As your compost breaks down, you will need to regularly turn it to keep it aerated, moist, and well mixed. Some use a compost tumbler to make this process easier, but you can also use garden tools such as shovels or pitchforks. You should turn your compost every one to two weeks. However, you can better judge when it is the right time to turn your compost by monitoring its internal temperature. As the microorganisms within work to decompose the materials, the compost will reach temperatures of between 140 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit. At this time, you should turn the materials to help the entire pile decompose more quickly