What is compost? Compost is a nutrient rich soil like mixture created from naturally decayed organic waste such as vegetable peels and paper and can be used for gardening, farming and landscaping. Our food scraps and yard waste combined contribute to 30% of what we send to the land fills and should be composted instead.
Why shouldn't we throw organic waste in the landfill? For something to decompose, it requires oxygen. Almost all landfills squeeze out as much oxygen as possible in order to fit the trash, making it nearly impossible for any organic matter to decompose properly. Not to mention the increased levels of methane that is released into our atmosphere when organic material faces anaerobic decomposition (due to the lack of oxygen) in our landfills.
Now let's begin composting!
Backyard Composting 101
Basic Elements Of Compost:
Brown Matter - Dry leaves, newspaper, paper bags, wood chips, branches, twigs, compostable packaging, etc.
Green Matter - Vegetable waste, fruit scraps, grass clippings and coffee grounds.
Water and Air - You must keep your compost moist with water and filled with oxygen.
Starting Your Compost Bin
Choose your container: There are two types of composting bins, stationary and rotating. Stationary bins are simple containers that can be made from wire, wood or recycled plastic. Rotating bins (or better known as tumblers) are cylinder shaped containers that easily "turn" your compost and can speed up the process. If you require large quantities of compost, the rotating option might suit you best.
Keep in mind for either container type, you must make sure to aerate your compost by purchasing a bin with holes or drilling/hammering holes into your compost bin to allow oxygen in for proper decomposition.
Bin Placement: Place your bin in a shaded location to avoid rain and overheating.
The Mixture: For an easy to maintain compost you will want a mix of brown and green plant matter plus moisture to keep good bacteria growing. Browns - dry leaves, wood chips, paper bags, newspaper, cardboard etc. Green - organic kitchen waste, grass and coffee beans. This should be done in a 2:1 ratio, making sure larger item pieces are chopped or shredded.
Avoid meat, fish and dairy as they will attract rodents.
Assemble: Brown on bottom for the base, then greens. Remember to add moisture each time and every time you add more greens, add more brown. Your compost should be moist like a damp towel.
Upkeep: Add material and moisture regularly and turn (mix) your compost with a pitchfork or shovel every week or two to make sure all materials are blending together. Always check compost moisture level to ensure it is not too damp or too dry.
Optional: Cover top of compost with a tarp to keep it moist. When the material at the bottom is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use. This usually takes anywhere between two months to two years.
Benefits of Compost
Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers when gardening or farming.
Enriches soil by helping retain moisture and decreases plant diseases and pests.
Encourages the production of good bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter.
Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
You can learn more about composting here!