WHAT IS COMPOST?
Compost is organic matter that has been broken down from naturally occurring bacteria, microorganisms, and insects into a nutrient-dense, soil-like product.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF COMPOSTING?
When leaves fall from trees onto the forest floor, they decompose and turn into a rich organic material called humus. Humans can recreate the same process with the organic waste we produce, in a managed process of decomposition, called composting. When items are added to a compost pile, microorganisms feed on and break down the materials. These microorganisms use carbon and nitrogen to reproduce and grow, oxygen to breathe, and water to digest materials. The microorganisms convert the organic material into a nutrient-rich soil amendment or compost.
Did you know that food scraps and yard waste make up about 30% of what we throw away? Composting is nature’s way of recycling. By turning yard trimmings and food scraps into compost, we reduce the amount of materials that would be disposed of in landfills and prevent greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, compost feeds soil without the use of chemical fertilizers. Compost can be utilized to build healthier soil, conserve water, and prevent soil erosion.
HOW TO START BACKYARD COMPOSTING IN THREE SIMPLE STEPS
1) Select and prepare a compost site.
- An ideal site is easily accessible, has good drainage, and is in sun or partial shade.
- Purchase a compost bin or build your own using wood, wire, and cinder blocks.
2) Prepare compost ingredients.
- Cut or shred ingredients into small pieces for easier decomposition.
3) Start composting.
- The perfect ratio of ingredients is 2–3 parts "brown" material and 1 part "green" material (see below for more on that!).
- Turn your pile! A good rule of thumb is a monthly rotation.
INGREDIENTS FOR COMPOSTING
- Carbon-rich materials (“browns” such as dead leaves, twigs, and cardboard)
- Nitrogen-rich materials (“greens” such as food scraps and yard waste)
- Water (moisture)
- Air (oxygen)
Decomposition requires a perfect ratio of both carbonaceous and nitrogenous materials.
WHAT COMMON KITCHEN SCRAPS CAN YOU COMPOST?
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
- Egg, peanut, and nut shells
- Stalks, stems, and vines
- Coffee grounds and filters, tea bags
- Wood ashes (in limited amounts)
- Garden clippings
- Grass clippings
- Apple cores and citrus rinds
- Meat and fat
- Dairy products
- Plastic or synthetic fibers
- Diseased plants
- Vegetable oils
- Dog and cat feces
- Weeds which have gone to seed
- Invasive weeds
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