Composting has become more popular as we are more aware of our impact on the environment and strive to be more eco-friendly.
However, it’s been around in its current method for over 100 years and is something that gardeners do religiously to ensure healthy, hearty plants.
If you’re interested in getting started composting, keep reading!
What Are The Benefits Of Composting?
Most people are aware that composting is eco-friendly, but how much do you really know about the benefits of composting?
First, composting turns things like food scraps and yard trimmings into nutrient-rich organic material that you can add to the soil to help plants grow and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.
If you have a beloved flower bed or a vegetable garden, you definitely need to start taking advantage of composting.
Additionally, if you want to lower your carbon footprint, composting will allow you to do that as well. Composting allows you to save food scraps and yard waste from landfills by using them in your compost instead. This reduces the amount of methane emissions from landfills while benefiting your garden.
What Can You Compost?
While there is quite a bit of your household trash that you can compost (generally about 30% of household waste), not everything is compostable.
Below you’ll find a list of what you can and can’t compost. When you’re a beginner to composting, it may be helpful to print a list and keep it handy so you can reference it as you’re adding items to your compost.
You Can Compost:
Fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds and filters, eggshells, tea bags, nutshells, shredded newspaper, paper, yard clippings, cardboard, plants, straw/hay, wood chips, 100% cotton and wool rags, hair, ashes from your fireplace.
You Can’t Compost:
Coal or charcoal ash, dairy products, diseased/insect-infested plants, oils, fat, lard, grease, meat bones or scraps, dog/cat waste, yard waste treated with chemical pesticides.
How to Start Composting
The first thing you’ll need to understand is that you need an equal balance of materials for good compost. The three main “ingredients” to your compost should include:
Browns: Dead leaves, branches, and twigs, etc.
Greens: Grass clippings, vegetable scraps, fruit scraps, coffee grounds, etc.
Water: Moisture is essential for compost development (don’t let it dry out!)
The brown provides carbon while the green provides nitrogen. Having a balance of brown and green is important and layering organic materials of different sizes is something to keep in mind when you’re adding to your compost.
Pick A Spot To Start Your Compost Pile
The ideal area is somewhere somewhat shaded, on bare earth, where it won’t dry out in the summer and won’t get too saturated and wet in the winter.
If you’d rather not start your compost on bare earth, you can get one of the many commercially available compost bins and place it in a similar area.
Establish Your Compost Pile
It’s recommended to add small twigs or straw first and then everything else on top. This allows for air to get to the bottom and helps with drainage.
Then you can add relatively equal amounts of brown and green material to your compost in layers, making sure that larger pieces are chopped into smaller pieces.
Each time you add to your compost, make sure that you add a bit of water for moisture.
Add New Materials And Turn Regularly
Once you have an established compost going, you can add new material regularly keeping in mind the brown to green ratio and ensuring that you keep things moist.
Every few weeks take some time to turn or mix your compost to aerate the pile and add oxygen which is an important element to composting.
While it seems a bit complicated at first, composting is actually quite simple once you get started and can start to see the results of your labor. Plus, the benefits for the environment, and your garden, are completely worth it!
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