Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How to Start Composting

Composting has many uses and people create them for different reasons. For one, it helps reduce the amount of landfill that is sent out with the rest of our garbage. Others use it for fertilizer in their gardens because they help plants grow strong and healthy by enriching the soil they grow in. By using compost as a fertilizer, we can reduce the use of chemical fertilizers. 

You will want to start your compost pile on bare earth, so that worms and other organisms can reach it. Before you lay out your compost materials, a layer of straw or twigs that is a few inches deep should be laid down first to help drain your pile. Then, you should lay your compost materials in layers of moist materials(food scraps, tea bags, coffee grinds, seaweed) and dry materials (straw, leaves, sawdust, and even wood ashes). Materials that tend to clump together, like ash and sawdust, should be in thinner layers. If you mow your lawn, you can even add your grass clippings, or any green “manure” (clover, buckwheat, wheatgrass, any nitrogen source). These will activate your compost pile. If it rains in your area, you won’t have to keep your pile moist, but if you live in a dry area, you should add some water to your pile, even if its used water. However, the compost pile shouldn’t get too wet, so you might have to cover it. A tarp would even work. Once you have a compost pile started, every few weeks you should turn and mix your pile to work in oxygen and other compost materials. 
A good compost pile should have more carbon materials than nitrogen materials. Carbon materials include branches, dried leaves, peels, wood, bark dust, brown paper bags, corn stalks, coffee filters, egg shells, straw, and many more. Nitrogen materials include manures, food scraps, green lawn clippings and green leaves. A good mix includes about one part green materials (nitrogen) and two parts brown materials (carbon). Having more carbon is better than having more nitrogen, however this is a wonderful spot to use both. 

Happy Composting!

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