Composting Explained

Composting

Composting is a natural process that transforms your kitchen and garden waste into nutrient-rich food for your garden. Not only does it reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, but it also improves soil health and yields healthier plants. If you’re new to composting, this guide will walk you through the basics.

Key Takeaways

  • Composting is a year-round process that turns kitchen and garden waste into nutrient-rich soil.
  • Compostable materials are categorized as “green” (nitrogen-rich) and “brown” (carbon-rich).
  • Aim for a 2:1 ratio of green to brown materials in your compost pile.
  • Choose a shaded, dry spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin.
  • Layer your compost materials to promote proper decomposition.
  • Turn your compost pile every few weeks to aerate it and speed up the process.
  • Maintain proper moisture levels in your compost pile – moist but not too wet.
  • Finished compost should be dark, crumbly, and have a sweet, earthy smell.
  • Use your compost as a soil conditioner, fertilizer, or natural pesticide in your garden.
  • Composting reduces waste sent to landfills and improves overall soil health.

WHAT TIME OF THE YEAR CAN I COMPOST?

Composting is a year-round activity and can be done irrespective of the season. While spring and summer may be optimal due to increased waste from gardening and faster decomposition rates, fall and winter are also great times for composting.

During the colder months, adding organic matter to your compost pile helps to insulate the heat-loving microbes in the core of the pile, which continue breaking down the material. Over time, even during winter, this will result in a rich, fertile compost ready for use in the following growing season.

Related: How to Make a Compost Pile?

WHAT CAN BE COMPOSTED?

Compostable materials fall into two categories: green and brown. Green materials are rich in nitrogen and include vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, and grass clippings. Brown materials, rich in carbon, include dried leaves, branches, and paper.

To create a balanced compost pile, the ratio of green to brown materials should be roughly 2:1. It’s also important to ensure that your compost is getting enough oxygen by turning it over occasionally and keeping it moist but not too wet.

When added together, these materials will break down into rich black compost that can be used as a fertilizer in your garden.

BUILDING YOUR COMPOST PILE

Choose a dry, shaded spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin. Compost layering is a method used to make a balanced compost pile that promotes proper decomposition. It’s a process that involves creating a stack of alternating layers of green and brown compost materials.

Green materials are rich in nitrogen and include items like vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, and grass clippings. Brown materials, on the other hand, are rich in carbon and encompass items such as dried leaves, branches, and paper.

MAINTAINING YOUR COMPOST PILE

Remember to turn your compost pile every few weeks with a pitchfork or shovel. This helps aerate the pile and speeds up the composting process. If the compost pile is too dry, add some water. If it’s too wet, add more brown materials to balance it out.

USING YOUR COMPOST

The finished compost is dark and crumbly with a sweet, earthy smell. It can be used as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer, or as a natural pesticide for your garden. Remember, composting takes patience, but the rewards are well worth the wait.

Joel Simon

As a kid, Joel found enjoyment in caring for the many houseplants he grew up with, learning how to transplant them safely, cloning them, and more. At about the age of 10, he wanted to see if he could sprout an orange seed from a store-bought orange and ended up using it as a science experiment in a school project. Throughout the many years of gardening, he has helped many friends and family set up their food and botanical gardens. After years of caring for plants, he was talking with other gardeners and discovering old methods of farming and botanical gardening. Joel has decided to share his knowledge for others to enjoy as he has for many years.

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