So why Compost?
My first jump into compost was when I was young. I had a blast turning old food and cuttings into great dirt to put back in the garden to feed the next round of veggies.
Having a Compost bin/pile is a fantastic way to have your scraps and leftovers work for you. Weather you are a Homesteader or living in the city, a small compost pile is never a bad idea.
In addition to being a great tool to get kids involved, It will keep waste out of landfills in plastic bags. The compost is also a natural fertilizer, removing the need for chemical useage on your own foods. So whether you are Starting your Tomato garden, or simply want to produce less waste I will go over the process below.
If you are looking for more information geared towards the Homestead Check out www.gracegardenandhomestead.com . They have an amazingly Homely blog packed with fantastic information. Twitter is a fantastic place to follow them too.
What can I Compost?
In general you can add almost all organics to the bin, but not all. You want to avoid putting in anything that is chemically treated. Chemicals will remain in the soil and inevatbly in your food. I also avoid adding meat and bone as well as pet waste. These will just attract animals and take a lot longer to break down. The smell is not so pleasant as well.
The things I do add is:
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Chicken Manure – From your chicken coop
- Fruits and vegetable scraps (as long as they are not diseased)
- Egg Shells
- Grass clippings
- Shredded newspaper
- Ashes from fireplace/woodstove
- Non plastic coated papers
- Cotton and Wool Rags
- Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
You can always check the U.S. EPA’S Website for more info.
Compost Bins and You
You can buy a bin online or in store. You just want to make sure it is sturdy, and won’t be knocked over by small animals. Also you want to make sure it has the volume to handle what you are going to add to it.
Making your own is a pretty simple task as well. A quick search on google gives loads of ideas on making your own. You can go as simple as a pile on the ground with a tarp for cover.
Starting your Compost
- Start your pile on bare earth. This will allow worms and other great organisms to arate and help the process along.
- Drainage is key. So start with twigs or straw to allow good drainage.
- Layers, You will want to alternate layers of dry and wet compost. you can add wood ash in between to avoid clumping and sticking together.
- Add manure, green manure ( clover, buckwheat, wheatgrass, grass clippings) or any nitrogen source. This activates the compost pile and speeds the process along.
- Keep it moist. You can let a bit of rain do the deed or just use a hose.
- Cover it up. If your bin has a lid that’s great, you can use a tarp or borde. This will hold in the moisture and heat. the driving factors for composting.
- Turn. Every few weeks give the pile a quick turn with a pitchfork or shovel. This aerates the pile. Oxygen is required for the process to work.
Once your compost pile is established, add new materials by mixing them in, rather than by adding them in layers. Mixing, or turning, the compost pile is key to aeration of the composting materials and speeding the process to completion.
A healthy compost pile should have much more carbon than nitrogen.
A simple rule of thumb is to use one-third green and two-thirds brown materials.Too much nitrogen makes for a dense, smelly, slowly decomposing anaerobic mass. Good composting hygiene means covering fresh nitrogen-rich material, which can release odors if exposed to open air, with carbon-rich material, which often exudes a fresh, wonderful smell. If in doubt, add more carbon!