Improve your soil and reduce your impact on the environment by regularly composting.
Composting turns kitchen scraps and garden clippings into a nutrient-rich, organic soil enhancer. Here are five simple steps to backyard composting.
|There are 5 steps to completing this project:|
|Step 1 BEGIN WITH A BIN|
|Step 2 LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION|
|Step 3 FEED THE BIN|
|Step 4 GET THE RIGHT MIX|
|Step 5 LET IT COOK|
|Soil Or Finished Compost|
|Compost Accelerator (Optional)|
|Garden Fork Or Compost Turner Tool|
1 BEGIN WITH A BIN
Compost bins come in various shapes and sizes, from commercial black plastic types to homemade ones of wooden planks or wire mesh. No matter which type you select, keep in mind these factors: first, the bin size should be at least one cubic metre (1 x 1 x1 metres) to build up enough heat to start decomposition; and secondly, it should be ventilated to allow enough air to flow through the pile to prevent an anaerobic environment, which can cause the pile to stagnate and smell. For this quick and easy project, choose a ready-made bin available at The Home Depot. Or, check with your local municipality; many make composters available to residents.
2 LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Site your composter in a sunny spot where the pile will heat up quickly (shadier locations are fine, but the compost will take longer to decompose). The bin should be convenient and accessible, making it easy to fill and turn the pile. Place the bin on bare earth to allow soil-bound microorganisms help break down the materials.
3 FEED THE BIN
Any vegetative material and many organics may be safely composted. This includes kitchen scraps, such as fruits and vegetables, eggshells, coffee grounds and tea bags as well as garden wastes, including grass clippings and raked leaves. Smaller pieces decompose faster than larger ones, so chop up materials such as melon rinds before adding them to the pile.
Never compost meat, bones, fats, diseased plant material, invasive weeds or pet wastes.
4 GET THE RIGHT MIX
Add ingredients in roughly equal layers of:
1.) Nitrogen-rich materials such as vegetable scraps and yard clippings
2.) Carbon based ones, such as dried leaves, straw and shredded newspaper
3.) Soil or finished compost
The simplest way to do this is to top off a layer of kitchen scraps with dried leaves (saved from the previous autumn) and a shovel full of soil. Turn the pile every week or so to hasten decomposition, or add a compost accelerator.
5 LET IT COOK
When the bin is full, continue to turn it occasionally, allowing nature to fully decompose the materials, until they take on a rich, soil-like consistency. Dig finished compost into garden beds to enrich the soil.