Composting is easy and the rewards are great. You can not only save money but it’s like giving a present back to the earth as well. The majority of household garbage is organic and compostable. Compost can be used in several ways: as soil amendment for gardens, lawns and houseplants; as mulch which adds nutrients and protects the soil from eroding; and as “tea” to ailing houseplants or young trees and seedlings. With proper amounts of air, water and food, the microbes within the compost will do their job quickly and effectively with relatively little help from you.
Consider placement of the compost pile carefully. It should be convenient to add to the pile and must have easy access for watering, turning and removal of the compost. Drainage must also be considered. Be sure water won’t pool around it – compost should be kept only about as wet as a wrung-out sponge.
To ensure that there is enough air for the microbes to work, turn the pile every week or so with a pitchfork or shovel. This may slow the process in the center temporarily, but you will have much better results with the entire compost. You may want to add sticks or poke holes in the pile with a pole to ensure that it is aerated.
“Food” for the compost (nitrogen and carbon) comes from green and brown organic matter. The “green” (nitrogen) is usually moist or wet materials and the “brown” (carbon) is the source of energy for the microbes and is dry and bulky materials which may need to be watered when added into the compost.
|Recommended Compostable Materials|
|“Brown” (high in carbon)||“Green” (high in nitrogen)|
|CorncobsCornstalksDry weedsFallen leavesHay and straw
Sawdust (not from treated wood)
Twigs and branches (dry)
|Bread & pastasCoffee grounds & tea bagsEggshellsFruit scrapsGrain waste
Hair (pet and human)
Do not add pet or human waste, diseased plants, meat scraps, bones, grease, fat, coal ashes from the grill or dairy products to your compost. “When in doubt – leave it out!”
The minimum size for a compost pile is three cubic feet. This size will allow for the microbes to heat up for a faster composting process. Begin with some branches and twigs to help with airflow. Mix about six inches of brown and two to three inches of green materials together and add a compost activator to start the process. Cover with approximately two inches of soil to control odors. Keep the center concave to reduce run-off. Sprinkle with water but don’t soak.
By chopping up kitchen scraps and woody material larger than ¼” in diameter before adding them, you will help speed up the decomposition process. Turn and sprinkle the pile with water once a week. When the pile is no longer hot and the materials are dark, crumbly and smell like rich soil with no odor, the compost is finished. The entire process takes approximately three to six months to complete.
If your compost is healthy, you shouldn’t have any problems with odor, flies, rodents or animals. When adding grass clippings, mix them in thoroughly so they don’t mat up. Too much moisture can make the compost rot rather than decompose. If you have large quantities of clippings, you may not want to add them all at one time. Bury food scraps 6-12” into the center to prevent flies.
Dixieline offers these quality products to ensure your composting is a success!
“Garden Gourmet” Composter by Scepter – This efficient and sturdy product is constructed from 100% recycled materials. It comes complete with a composting and user guide and features an easy-access lid that snaps securely shut. The sliding bottom door makes it removal of the compost easy.
“Compost Maker Plus” by Whitney Farms, a natural organic composting activator
Shovels and Pitchforks from Ames for turning and stirring