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Composting: A Green Practice that is Good for Your Garden

Updated on February 25, 2013

Compost: Garden Treasure from Trash

Composting is the process of taking natural/organic materials that would otherwise be discarded and putting them together. Adding small amounts of moisture and with the heat of the sun, food scraps and yard waste become food and soil amendments for your yard and garden.

Vegetable Garden
Vegetable Garden | Source

How Composting Helps the Environment

Composting is beneficial for many reasons--and depending whether you are a green-energy proponent or a gardening enthusiast--it's difficult to say which reason is the most important.

Composting helps the environment by reducing the amount of space used in landfills for yard and kitchen wastes. It's estimated that one-fourth of all space in landfills is taken up with these items--items you can readily use back on your own lawn and garden.

If you're not going to the landfill as often, you are saving gas. Saving gas saves the environment and it saves you money.

You'll use fewer trash bags, reducing your costs, space in the landfill, and fewer plastic bags to decompose over the next millennium.

Using compost in your garden and lawn reduces the need for commercial fertilizers, or may replace that need altogether. Again, fewer or no commercial fertilizers saves you money. It means you and your lawn/garden are being exposed to fewer chemicals--and if enough people compost--eventually less chemical fertilizer will be produced, saving even more energy.

One consistent thread running through most of these environmental benefits is also about being frugal and saving money. A green enthusiast or not, most of us give a thumbs up to saving the green in out wallets.

Compost Bins Made of Pallets

Make Your Own Compost

What Goes Into Compost?

Let's start with what doesn't go into compost--it's a shorter list. Don't include meats, bones, fatty foods such as cheese, cat or dog manure or litter box waste. Some of these items encourage vermin and others such as the pet poop just isn't good for making compost.

Exclude weeds or your compost may lead to weed growth when used.

Fair game for the compost pile: Leaves, both green and brown; twigs; plant cuttings; biodegradable kitchen scraps; grass; dryer lint; and newspaper. Basically, any item that will decompose, excluding the items mentioned above can go into the compost pile.

Home Composting Part I

More Composting Information

Where to locate your compost pile? It is best to locate your compost pile or bin where it will receive a good dose of sunlight. The sunlight provides the heat that allows the bacteria and nutrients to break down the individual items in the "fermenting" compost into the rich final product.

Place the compost pile/bin away from other vegetation such as trees and shrubs. These will rob the nutrients from the compost as it develops, leaving you with less than top-notch compost.

How big should my compost pile be? If you're locating your compost in something other than a bin designed for that function, you need the compost area to be at least 3 foot by 3 foot. Anything too small won't allow the piled material to develop the heat needed for the break down process. You can go larger, but must ensure you pile the material high enough for heat to be generated within it.

How long does it take to make the final product? The amount of time it takes for the scrap material to break down into usable compost will depend in part on the method used and how well you tend it. Compost made in an outside compost bin will likely take 3 to 4 months before reaching the usable stage.

One way to speed up the process is to add a shovel-full of usable compost to the new pile or bin. Maybe you have a friend or neighbor who would provide this for you the first time around. Once you have your own compost pile, just remember to save some as a starter for your next pile.

Adding blood nitrogen to each layer of material can also speed up the break down process.

Home Composting - Part II

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    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 

      5 years ago from America

      We had a compost at our other house but we don't do it here, it brings in to many bears. They love to get into something like that. Good information on composting. Sharing and voted up.

    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Thelma Alberts, I'm happy you found this information useful and wish you the best of success with your gardens.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      6 years ago from Germany

      Wow! This is what I´m looking for. I ´m planting some flowers and vegetables and it costs me a lot of money buying organic soil for the plants to grow. I´ve been thinking of making a compost but until now it´s still a plan. The video above and this article will help me a lot. Thank you for this very informative hub. Voted up and shared.

    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      SgBrown, best of luck to you with the garden and the compost pile this time around. Here's to hoping the heat and dryness from last summer is a mere memory this year.

      Thanks for the read and thank you for SHARING.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      This is great advice! We had a compost pile at one time, but we didn't take very good care of it. It was really too big and I couldn't "turn" it. It began to grow weeds in it and I just did away with it. I would like to start a new one, on a smaller scale! We have a garden each year and I would like to use my compost. Videos were awesome too! Voted up, useful and sharing! Have a wonderful day! :)

    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Peggy W, thanks for sharing your success story with making your own compost and using it in your garden. Composting is such a perfect example of a "green" practice -- both in theory and reality.

      Thanks for SHARING.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      We have a compost bin at our current home, and when I had a huge garden years ago in Wisconsin, I also had a huge compost pile. Each Spring after the snow melted, it would be rototilled into the garden and I had great results to show for that effort.

      Voted up, useful and will share!

    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Alocsin, I wish you much success with your garden. Nothing tastes better than that which you grow yourself.

      Thanks for the read and for SHARING.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 

      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I've been thinking of starting this in my own garden. Thanks for providing the instruction. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Tina, I may need to hit you up for gardening advice. And you're right, growing your own vegetables has many advantages. Appreciate your kind words.

    • gr82bme profile image

      gr82bme 

      7 years ago from USA

      Very Nice! Well done and the videos are perfect. I grow a huge garden every year. It is hard work but in the end you can be proud of your hard work and have veggies all winter long. Think how good that is on the environment. Less cans, less trucks. If more people grew their own gardens, the less trucks would be needed on the road. I am going to share.

      Love this

      voted up and the other thingies too!

      peace

      Tina

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