As people begin to be more environmentally and economically conscious or perhaps just more conscious of the amount of garbage they generate, composting becomes popular. However, for many it’s still a new concept and it seems kind of mysterious. If you’re interested in learning more about it, here are a few composting basics to get you started. It really is very easy.
So What is Composting Exactly?
Composting is essentially decomposing. The leaves that collect in the corner of your yard decompose. The grass clippings that fall on your lawn decompose. It is actually a HUGELY inportant process. If you facilitate this process, then it’s called composting. It basically involves mixing your yard and household organic waste, like food scraps, in a container and providing conditions that encourage or facilitate the decomposition process.
Why Should YOU Compost?
Composting is a very environmentally friendly practice. It reduces the amount of garbage we toss into landfills by 20-30% and as we get closer and closer to running out of space, composting becomes more and more important.
In addition to making space in the landfills, composting provides you with a source of chemical free fertilizer, which you can use for gardening and soil conditioner. If you garden and grow your own food then you want nutrient rich compost and making it yourself is cost effective.
Materials to Get Started Composting
To begin composting you’ll need a few things to get started. You can find many of these items at your local hardware or gardening store. You can also buy home composting kits only. These kits come with everything you need and provide a relatively “stink free” composting experience.
You’ll likely need a compost bin. The materials will be decomposing here so if you’re keeping the compost in your home, you’ll want a lid as well. I have a small 5 pound bucket I use for kitchen crap collection and it will start to get smelly after 3-4 days so I take it outside to our main composting place. At our previous home we had a HUGE 10×20 compost bin made from lattice. It was actually a bit too big IMO but we had several acres of leaves and grass clippings. We still ended up taking a couple truck loads of leaves to the local compost yard each Fall.
Now we have no bin whatsoever, just a big pile in the backyard, behind the garage. It was there when we moved in and it seems to work just fine. It is not the most attractive thing but it isn’t where anyone, including neighbors, have to look at it.
You’ll also need a pitchfork to turn and mix the compost regularly.
But what about the actual compost? Can you toss anything in there? Are there right and wrong ingredients? The answer is yes, the ideal compost recipe includes:
* Greens – include grass clippings, kitchen scraps including eggshells and coffee grounds. (Avoid using any meat, fat, grease, oils, dairy products, bones, or animal droppings in your compost.)
* Browns – include dried leaves, straw, wood chips, paper bags and drier lint.
* Water – Keep the pile moist but not soaking
* And time
If you have two much brown stuff it will take a lot longer to compost. That is why we often hauled some leaves away because it threw our mixture way off balance and the compost would come close to “cooking” like it should.
We allow our compost to sit for 6 months or more and we end up with dark, rich compost that our garden loves. So when doing yard waste cleanup this summer and fall, it may be a great time to try your hand at composting.