Great Composting Tips & Advice
Composting is the process of breaking down organic materials into nutrient-rich soil amendments that can be used to improve the health of your garden, lawn, or potted plants. It is a simple and effective way to recycle your kitchen and yard waste while reducing your carbon footprint and contributing to a more sustainable environment.
The Purpose of Composting
The purpose of composting is to create a nutrient-rich soil amendment that can be used to improve soil quality, retain moisture, and stimulate plant growth. Composting helps to break down organic matter such as food waste, yard waste, and other materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. In landfills, organic matter is buried under layers of garbage and lacks the oxygen needed for decomposition. This leads to the production of methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. By composting, you can divert organic waste from landfills and reduce your carbon footprint.
Benefits of Composting
There are numerous benefits to composting, both for the environment and for your gardening needs. Here are just a few of the most significant benefits:
- Reduces waste: Composting helps to reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfills, which can help to extend the life of landfills and decrease the need for new ones.
- Improves soil quality: Compost is an excellent soil amendment that can improve soil quality by increasing the nutrient content, water-holding capacity, and overall health of the soil. It can also help to suppress plant diseases and pests.
- Saves money: Composting can help to save money on fertilizer and soil amendments while reducing the need for water and pesticides.
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions: By composting, you help to reduce the amount of methane gas that is produced in landfills. Methane gas is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming and climate change.
- Supports biodiversity: Composting can help to support biodiversity by providing a habitat for beneficial soil organisms such as earthworms, bacteria, and fungi.
What to Compost
Not all organic matter is suitable for composting. Knowing what materials you can and cannot compost is essential to ensuring that your compost pile breaks down efficiently and produces high-quality compost. Here are some materials that can and cannot be composted:
Materials to Compost:
- Fruit and vegetables scraps: This includes anything from apple cores and banana peels to onion skins and potato scraps.
- Coffee grounds and filters: Coffee grounds and filters are an excellent source of nitrogen, which supports the growth of microorganisms that break down organic matter.
- Yard waste: Yard waste such as leaves, grass clippings, and twigs are excellent sources of carbon, which provides a food source for the microorganisms that break down organic matter.
- Eggshells: Eggshells are a good source of calcium, which is essential for plant growth.
- Shredded newspaper and cardboard: Shredded newspaper and cardboard are excellent sources of carbon and can help to balance the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio in your compost pile.
Materials not to Compost:
- Meat, fish, and dairy products: Meat, fish, and dairy products can attract pests and emit an unpleasant odor as they decompose. They should be avoided in the compost pile.
- Oily, fatty, or greasy foods: These materials can also attract pests and may take longer to decompose than other materials.
- Pet waste: Pet waste can contain harmful bacteria and parasites, and should not be placed in a compost pile that will be used to grow food.
- Diseased or insect-infested plants: These materials can introduce pests and diseases into your garden, so they should not be added to the compost pile.
- Synthetic materials: Synthetic materials such as plastic, metal, and glass should not be composted.
Tips for Composting
Composting is relatively simple, but there are a few tips that can help to ensure that your compost pile is healthy and productive. Here are some tips for successful composting:
- Start with a good mix: A good compost pile should have a balance of carbon-rich materials (such as leaves and cardboard) and nitrogen-rich materials (such as vegetable scraps and grass clippings). A good ratio is about 3 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen.
- Build your pile in layers: Build your compost pile in layers, alternating between carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials. This will help to ensure that the pile breaks down efficiently.
- Keep your pile moist: Your compost pile should be moist but not soaking wet. A good rule of thumb is to aim for the consistency of a damp sponge.
- Turn your pile regularly: Turning your compost pile regularly (about once a week) can help to aerate the pile and speed up the decomposition process.
- Use finished compost correctly: Once your compost is finished, use it to improve the quality of your garden soil. You can use it as a top dressing for your lawn, or mix it into your garden soil to improve its texture and nutrient