How to Make Compost

How to Make Compost

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  1. Compost is a combination of organic materials that are decomposed, or broken down, into a rich black soil. Using compost, you can save the planet and upgrade you home garden at the same time! It’s extremely simple and easy to do. Starting your own compost heap requires very few materials (if any) and takes hardly any time at all. You can transform your organic waste into something useful while adding valuable nutrients to your garden topsoil through composting. Here’s a quick and easy how-to on getting started with your own compost heap: 

    Step 1 – Choosing a Location

    First, you will need to choose a location to begin your compost heap. As a courtesy to any neighbors nearby, you will want to choose a location that is not bothersome to those living around you. Out of sight, out of mind. Although the compost heap shouldn’t cause an odor problem, it is slightly less attractive than a bed of roses in your front yard. You can also plant shrubs or other plants surrounding the heap to obstruct any views of the compost.

    Step 2 – Choosing a Size

    You must now choose the size of your compost heap.  The recommended size is 3′ x 3′ x 3′. With this surface area your heap can effectively transform your waste into compost. If your compost pile is too large it can be difficult to turn over when it is time to readjust your compost.

    Step 3 – Choosing Which Materials to Add

    What materials should be placed in the compost pile? Like humans, a good, balanced diet is best when composting. Mix green, organic waste such as grass clippings and vegetable scraps with brown organic waste like straw, hay and bark. When placing dry brown waste like straw in your bin, soak it in water first in order to speed up decomposition.

    Step 4 – Monitoring Oxygen and Moisture Levels

    A compost pile must be turned over often in order to promote faster decomposition.  The fungus and bacteria that decompose waster require oxygen to do their work. Using a pitchfork or shovel, rearrange the compost pile thoroughly.  This will introduce more oxygen to the pile and speed up the composting process. You also need to monitor the moisture levels of the pile. A good rule of thumb is that the pile should be moist, not sopping wet. If your pile contains a lot of green material (grass clippings, clover), then you do not need to add as much water.

    Step 5 – The Finished Product

    Your compost is ready to use once it is a dark, rich color and crumbles easily. At this time is should be impossible to distinguish and of the pile’s original ingredients. The smell emanating from the pile should be sweet and earthy. The time needed to arrive to the finished product can vary. It can take anywhere from 3-12 months, so you will need to monitor your pile to determine when it is ready to use. Your compost now be used as potting soil for plants or placed on top of your garden soil to enrich it with nutrients and help the soil retain water and oxygen.

    Worm Composting

    Another form of composting is worm composting.  This is done by filling a plastic bin with dampened shredded newspaper and organic food waste and then adding earthworms to the bin. The earthworms will devour the waste and transform it into compost.

    Step 1 – Obtaining a Plastic Bin

    Worm composting does not require a custom built bin. Any plastic bin that comes equipped with a lid and air holes will be sufficient. A three gallon bin will be of adequate size.

    Step 2 – Creating Worm Bedding

    In order to create the worm bedding, or what the worms will be living in inside your bin, you need to gather some old newspapers.  First, make sure the newspaper has been shredded and then add straw or leaves. A handful of dirt or sand will finish off the bedding.

    Step 3 – Dampen the Worm Bedding

    The worm bedding, or the bin contents, needs to be damp in order to be broken down quickly by the worms. Add water to dampen the bedding.

    Step 4 – Add Your Worms

    Once the bedding has been dampened, it is time to add your worms. The best species of worms for composting are known as Red Wiggler Worms.

    Step 5 – Adding Organic Waste

    Add your kitchen scraps such as uneaten fruits and vegetables and peels to the bedding mixture. These will provide valuable nutrients to your compost as well as food for your worms. Cover the organic waste with leaves or straw each time you add.

    Step 6 – The Finished Product

    When the compost is a dark, rich color and crumbles easily it is ready to harvest. Remove the compost from the top of the bin.  Any worms that are taken out can be placed back into the bin to continue breaking down your organic waste into compost.

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