Composting is an excellent way to boost soil quality while also getting rid of scraps and reducing waste. Those who are interested in building a new compost pile, however, require guidance on the proper materials and how to manage the pile so that it creates rich composite that is easily usable in the yard and garden. Here is how to get started.
Using a compost bin
Many people will elect to use a compost bin to keep their pile contained, but there are also others who choose to instead have a free floating pile. Those who decide to use a bin should carefully consider factors such as how much waste they typically generate and where in the yard is both sunny and easily accessible year round. Some people can design or build their own compost bins, but for many, commercially made bins are much more convenient.
What can go in the compost bin
Compost bins are fantastic for breaking down a number of different types of natural products, from yard clippings and scraps to paper napkins or coffee. There some things, however, that should be avoided. Meat, fish, eggs, and bones, for example, should be composted using a food waste digester rather than a backyard compost pile. Synthetic materials and other items that will not break down should also not be placed in the pile. Also make sure that any weeds do not have seeds before placing them in the pile.
Layering the compost bin
To maximize the impact of the compost bin, it is a good idea to begin with a thick layer of what is known as ‘brown compost.’ This would include items such as:
– dry leaves
– twigs and small branches
– dried weeds
– wood chips from untreated wood
On top of the brown layer, place a ‘green compost’ layer. This green layer would be items such as:
– vegetable scraps
– fruit peels and scraps
– coffee grounds
– fresh grass clippings.
Then alternate layers between green and brown. Try to keep the brown always on top to help prevent odors and avoid problems with pests.
Keeping the compost bin aerated
The compost is breaking down because the microorganisms in the pile are eating away at the natural material. These microorganisms require oxygen to breath. Aerating the compost can help speed up the process and prevent odors. The more frequently the pile is stirred, the faster the compost will break down. Generally, stirring the pile every 2 to 3 weeks should suffice and produce compost that is ready for use in about 6 months. Simply use a shovel, pitchfork, or aerating tool to turn the pile and make holes in it. Make sure that the entire pile is aerated, down to the bottom.
Beginning a compost pile is a great way to naturally dispose of waste and reuse it for the good of the earth. Both an eco-friendly tool and a money saver, it is a great project for just about any household. Follow the above advice and get started building a mature pile in time to plant flowers and grass next year.