These instructions will help you learn the basics of the composting process. Composting is a cheap, environmentally beneficial way to enrich soil for gardening and landscaping. It helps prevent pollution by reusing organic materials instead of filling up landfills. Composting replaces the need for harmful fertilizers and pesticides, and also prevents erosion. No experience or fancy equipment is needed to start your own compost pile at home. This is not an exact science - just an easy, hassle-free way to benefit your yard. Just follow these simple steps, and within a few months your compost will be ready to add to your garden!
HOW IT WORKS
The composting process is comprised of four main parts: air, water, browns, and greens.
AIR : In order for fast decomposition, the compost pile must have plenty of air. This means that it is essential for the compost materials to be regularly “fluffed” and turned.
WATER : The pile should always be moist, not wet. As one compost-guide describes, the pile should be “moist as a
wrung-out sponge.” If the pile is too dry, the decomposition will be slowed. If the pile is too wet, air is kept from
circulating in the pile and decomposition will slow.
BROWNS : Dry and dead plant material. This includes straw, brown weeds, autumn leaves, wood chips, and sawdust. These materials often need to be moistened before added to the compost.
GREENS : Fresh plant material. This includes green weeds, fruit and vegetable scraps, green leaves, coffee grounds, tea bags, etc.
Step 1: List of Materials
-pitchfork or rake
-chicken wire (24 in x 10 ft)
-zip ties/cable ties
-gardening soil (1-2 bags of 40 lbs)
-compost material (refer to table of "What to Compost")
-4 wooden stakes 3’ - 4’ tall
-a friend willing to lend a hand!
What to Compost:
-shredded paper (omit non-recyclable)
-tea bags (be sure to remove any staples)
-vegetable and fruit scraps
-yard scraps (old plants, flowers, and small prunings)
-egg shells (be sure they are free from yolk residue)
What Not to Compost:
-non-organics (plastic, metal, glass, etc.)
-any material containing preservatives/toxins
Step 2: Choose a Location
Step 3: Constructing the Bin
This may require some assistance.
Step 4: Stake It!
Step 5: Secure Bin
Step 6: Add Leaves
Remember you don't have to make it exact.
Step 7: Add Soil
Step 8: Water Lightly
Don't over water. Should be damp as a wrung-out sponge.
Step 9: Alternate Layers
Step 10: Add Compost Materials!
Refer to list of "What to Compost" and "What Not to Compost."
Step 11: Mix It Up!
Step 12: Stir, Water, Repeat
Step 13: Enjoy Your Compost!
Step 14: Troubleshooting
This could be caused by compaction.
Solution : Aerate! Stir the mixture more often to create more air movement.
Or, this could be caused by over-watering.
Solution: Add dry leaves or wood chips to soak up water and stir often to promote air flow.
How do I know when my compost pile is ready to be mixed into my garden?
If the pile has:
- shrunk significantly (up to half its original volume) OR
- the original organic materials (the leaves in Step 5) are no longer recognizable OR
- the compost pile is more crumbly than solid
the compost pile is ready. This can take a few months, be patient!
There are flies around my compost bin - how do I get rid of them?
Flies should not be attracted to your compost pile if the food scraps are stirred under the soil and leaves.
Dumping food scraps on top of the pile will attract flies.
Why are there ants in my compost pile?
Ants are a sign that the compost is too dry. Remember to lightly water the compost pile regularly.