Make your own compost
How to compost at home
On behalf of, and with our thanks to Karlyn McKell
How to compost at home
Image via Burst
Are you throwing away vegetable scraps, old coffee grounds, and other biodegradable food products? Most of us toss out a ton of kitchen scraps that can be composted instead. Things like eggshells and coffee grounds help keep our compost piles thriving and in turn deliver us healthy soil feeder we can sprinkle in the garden.
These days, most of us are spending more time at home — this also means that we’re likely creating more waste, too. Composting is a great at-home project that helps you reduce your carbon footprint while improving the health of your garden. Read on to see what materials you should (and shouldn’t) add to your pile.
What is Compost?
To have a successful compost project, you’ll first need to understand exactly what compost is and how it benefits your yard and garden.
Compost is a nutrient-rich and crumbly topsoil that comes from the breakdown of organic matter, and composting is the act of breaking down this matter. Organic matter naturally breaks down over time, but composting speeds up the process, allowing you to harness the nutrients from your waste quicker and more efficiently. The result is a free and natural plant fertilizer that really works.
Oftentimes, the waste we toss into the trash ends up in landfills. Here, organic decomposition replaced is with a process that releases harmful chemicals such as CO2 gas into the atmosphere. Since composting releases oxygen into the atmosphere, it actually helps fight back against landfill dangers — meaning your at-home compost pile is helping fight climate change.
Know What Materials Can (and Can’t) be Composted
Not all waste should end up in your compost pile so you should pay attention to the scraps you save. Some materials can slow down decomposition, or even poison your pile.
Compost is made up of two layers of organic materials, known as greens and browns. Greens are those nitrogen-rich materials such as fruits and vegetables, and browns are carbon-rich such as twigs and leaves..
Greens will add essential nitrogen to your compost pile:
Fruits and vegetables
Tea bags and loose tea grounds
Coffee grounds and coffee filters
Browns are carbon-rich and should make up most of your compost pile:
Materials to leave out of the compost pile include:
Hang this free printable in your kitchen as a reminder for what to keep for compost and what to toss. Click on image to download
Courtesy of The Zebra
For more detailed information please visit thezebra.com
Start the Composting Process
Once you’ve gathered your browns and greens materials, it’s time to start assembling your compost pile! This activity works best in a shaded outdoor space with access to a water source. Once your pile is set up, maintaining it takes just a few minutes each week.
Here’s how to get started:
Find a spot in your yard for your compost pile. You can use a compost tumbler, an enclosed bin, or dig a hole to start composting in.
Create your compost by adding your brown and green layers. You should start with a brown layer and make these thicker. Overall, there should be a 3:1 ratio of browns to greens in your compost.
Add moisture to your compost. This is where being near a water source comes in handy: you’ll want to use a hose or watering can to get your compost wet. The trick is adding enough moisture without making your compost soggy. Adding too much water can slow down decomposition and make your compost smell rotten.
Aerate your pile weekly. Aerating, or turning, your compost pile helps speed up the decomposition process. You can use a shovel to easily turn your pile every week or so.
Inspect your compost. After 2-4 months, it’s time to check your compost and determine if it’s ready to use. All or most of the organic matter should be broken down into crumbly soil, and the compost should have a pleasant, earthy smell.
Once your compost is ready to use, there are plenty of ways to use it in and around your yard. Compost can be used as mulch to amend soil, replenish the soil in your potted plants, or be sprinkled on your heavy feeder fruits and vegetables to help them grow big and strong.