Composting is one of the best things you can add to your garden. It is a super nutrient rich soil that will help your plants thrive and revive nutrient depleted soil. Starting to compost at home can be really easy and it’s great for your garden.
When the majority of people think about compost they think they just start making a pile of their food waste and garden clippings, then let the pile sit for a couple of years to get compost. You will definitely get compost this way, but there is a “recipe” you should use to get compost much faster. The four ingredients in this recipe are:
- Green Material
- Brown Material
Green Material consists of things like your food waste, vegetable waste and fruit peels, it also can include grass clippings and weeds that haven’t gone to seed yet. It’s best not to compost meat, fats, oils or plants that have a disease.
Brown Material consists of sawdust, straw, wood chips, fallen leaves and shredded brown cardboard.
There is a balance that is good to try to maintain between your green and brown material. You want to strive for a 3:1 ratio of brown material to green material. Having lots of brown material is important to your compost, it can be the one thing that most people have a hard time obtaining. If you’re not able to add enough brown material the compost it will end up being slimy, wet and likely become smelly.
Air is important to the composting process because as air is introduced into the pile it will help it break down quicker. You add air to your compost pile by mixing it.
Water is only necessary to add if you’re able to add lots of brown material to your pile. If your compost pile has some dry places then you will want to add just enough water to make it moist, while avoiding making it soggy. But since many people don’t have enough brown material in their compost this may not be something to worry about.
Once you get your recipe right the compost will begin to create heat. This is a great sign because it means that your compost is breaking down and you can have usable soil in a matter of weeks.
Why Composting is so Important
Creating a compost pile is really great for you garden because as I stated above it adds key nutrients back to you soil for your plants to use.
If you’re following current events at ALL you’ve seen all sorts of articles or news stories about how global climate change is happening right now and we need to make some major changes. While it can all feel overwhelming and like nothing is being done to make changes, one thing that you can do as an individual is to start composting. By composting you are diverting your food waste from the landfill. When food waste gets to the landfill it will break down, but in a landfill there isn’t proper oxygen thus it breaks down and creates methane gas. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and is a contributor to global warming. Thus composting all of your food waste is important and can be a feel good practice to begin.
What is Compostable?
Generally when you think about compost you first think about food waste, but there are other household items that are also compostable.
Some of the things include paper towels, paper plates that don’t have plastic coating on them, paper bags (uncoated), pizza boxes (ripped up), cut flowers, hair and nail clippings, coffee grounds/filters, tea/tea bags, and much more. Visit my friend’s composting website here for a complete printable list of what is compostable and what should be thrown out.
What Composter Should you Choose?
OK, you’re ready to dive head first into composting! Well maybe not literally 🙂 But after you’ve decided to start composting you will want to decide on what type of composter is going to be best for you. If you have some property you can always build your own bins out of wood, you want it to be slatted so there is good airflow and then put some sort of lid on it,this is so it doesn’t get too wet, and also helps to keep critters out of the bins. If you’d rather buy a bin you can buy a basic four sided plastic bin. These have ventilation built in and generally have some sort of door to open at the bottom so you can easily get the compost out. There are also tumbling composters, the one that I use, I have reviewed here, there are other options out there but I believe this one is the best bang for your buck. There are worm compost bins, these are tiered towers and you would use worms to break down your food waste. Or if you decide you don’t want to build or purchase a bin you can always just start a pile.
No Room for a Composter? Some Other Options
With composting becoming a hot topic there are other options besides having your own compost pile. You can find someone locally that will pickup your compost for a small fee and do the rest of the work! There are already small businesses running across the country that collect compost from people for a small fee.If composting is something that you do want to participate in do a quick Google search for composters in your area. I’m sure you’ll find that someone nearby that wants your food scraps!
In Vermont legislature passed a motion making composting mandatory by July 2020. This is part of a larger law put into place in 2012 to keep all recyclables and food waste out of the landfill. There were phases to this to make it easier on people but come next summer compost will be a mandatory practice. You will be able to compost yourself as we’ve been discussing or you can have your waste hauler pick up your sorted food waste to be composted.
Composting is Good for Your Garden and the Environment
If you’re new to composting there is a learning curve to it, you need to retrain yourself on where to put your compostable material, and if you decide to take on composting yourself there will be some learning involved in getting your compost mixture right so your green and brown material breaks down into a rich soil for use in your garden.
Your composting efforts won’t go unnoticed though, the environment will thank you as you will avoid adding more green house gasses into the environment and your garden with thank you once you’re able to add some of the soil you’ve made to it. And don’t forget if you just can’t take on making the compost yourself or you physically don’t have room for a composter where you live, look someone up. There is likely a small business nearby that is doing what you can’t, and helping to divert food scraps from the landfill.
Are you going to start composting? What method will you opt for?