How to Make Compost
Benefits of Composting
I love composting, no really, I do! Composting is an earth-friendly and thrifty way to reduce your carbon footprint. By filling less garbage bags and eliminating additional waste from landfills, you will save money and the earth. In return, you will be rewarded with rich, fertilized soil for your garden beds.
How to Compost
Composting is a lot easier than it sounds. There are three basics steps to follow:
Step 1: Save kitchen scraps
Food waste, such as fruit and vegetable peelings, apple cores, peach pits, seeds, etc. can all be composted. You can throw in cardboard egg cartons, stale bread or cereal, and any rice or grains leftover from dinner.
The only things you really need to avoid are anything oily (cooking oil, peanut butter, etc.), as it won't decompose and also any animal waste and/or bones.
When I am cooking, I will add any fruit and vegetable waste to a recycled plastic container, such as the ones used by Earthbound farms for leafy greens and then once I am done, I bring it out to the composter.
If your bin is not conveniently located or you can't get to it right away, you may want to try using a small garbage pail or products specifically designed and sold as kitchen compost bins.
Composting Photo Guide
Step 2: Add scraps to compost bin
It's important to keep your compost pile properly balanced to produce organic fertilizer. The scientific formula is 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen, I just think of this as a good variety of food scraps, balanced with some yard waste (grass clippings, leaves, weeds, small twigs, etc) does the trick.
Using an aerator, pitchfork, or compost tumbler, it is a good idea to mix up the ingredients regularly to aid in the decomposition process.
Add Water, if Needed
If the contents of your compost bin appear to be getting dried out, you should water it. The heat and moisture inside the bin will positively effect the composting process.
Step 3: Collect rich soil
As soon as it resembles rich black soil, you can add your compost to enrich the soil in potted plants or garden beds. Compost can also be sprinkled around the base of a plant or tilled into the soil with your hands or a garden tool.
Advantages of Using a Compost Bin
Some people may argue that a compost bin is unnecessary to compost successfully. I completely agree with many of their arguments, such as less consumption of material goods, but there are also good reason to use a compost bin. Here are a few of mine:
- Cleaner & more aesthetically pleasing than a heap of scraps; some towns may even have restrictions on open piles of compost
- Keeps animals and other pests at away
- Holds in heat which helps increase the decomposition process
Photos: Compost BinsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Types of Bins
There are many types of compost bins on the market today. You can even make your own compost bin if you would like.
DIY: Compost Heap/Wooden Pallet Bin (free)
Our first compost heap was constructed for yard waste only out of wooden pallets. It worked ok, but it looked messy and was very difficult to get out the finished compost because it was at the bottom of a large pile. Aerating the pile was also burdensome.
Plastic Compost Bins $20-40
The next two composters we tried were tall plastic bins. They each had their pros and cons. The circular shape, sold by our town, proved to be just as inconvenient as the open pile. The second one we purchased at Costco's and I thought it would be great because it had an easy access door at the bottom to reach the finished soil. Unfortunately, that one was poorly constructed and did not hold up very well. The door was also tough to open and close.
Compost Tumbler $100-300
I have been wanting to try a compost tumbler for a while, but they are so expensive. I finally spotted one on sale for $100 and I made the splurge. It is by far the best composter I have ever used.
It's conveniently placed on wheels to move around the yard or park near the back door, providing easier accessibility
- No more pitchfork or aerator
To aerate the compost tumbler, you just unlock the pin and roll the tumbler handle. It's less strenuous and very easy to do.
Best Location for an Outdoor Compost Bin
- Level ground
- Partially shady
Full sun will dry out the pile too quickly & full shade won't allow the sun to heat up the contents.
A place that you can easily access for adding to and aerating the compost.
- Nearby Water Source
Having a water source close by is important in case it gets dry and requires watering.
Tip: Be Aware of Attracting Fruit Flies
How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies in the Kitchen: Natural Fruit Fly Trap
If you happen to leave kitchen scraps that are intended for your compost heap in the kitchen too long, you might attracted some unwanted pests. Fruit flies love to swarm around fruit and vegetable peelings and waste, especially in the summer. To eliminate fruit flies naturally, follow the directions below:
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon dish soap
Mix together ingredients above in small shallow bowl. Leave out near source of fruit flies. The insects will be attracted to the sweet smell of the vinegar, but then will be trapped by the stickiness of the dish soap.
Tip: Did you know you can compost the following?
- Human hair
- Brewer's waste
- Eggshells & cardboard egg cartons
- Felt waste
- Coffee grounds & filters
- Tea bags (remove staples, if any on tag)
- Newspaper (must be printed with biodegradable ink)
Tip: Never add the these ingredients to your compost pile:
- Animal waste or bones
- Grease & oils
- Diseased garden plants
- Coal ashes
- Cat litter
- Cat or dog feces
Tip: Be greener & buy products with compostable packaging
Do You Compost?
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