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A Beginner's Guide to Composting

 

Composting is a natural process in which healthy bacteria, enzymes and organisms transform organic waste materials into yummy new soil. It is a great way to recycle yard and kitchen waste and improve the prosperity and health of your garden.

After choosing a composter, use the guidelines below to get started and begin “cooking up” your own enriching compost!

Ingredients

A vegan balance of “Moist Greens” and “Dry Browns” is best. The right combination of ingredients allows you to balance carbon and nitrogen - and leave out toxic stuff – to create a rich blend of soil.

The key ingredients are as follows:

“Carbon”: “Dry Browns” are like protein for your compost. Feed your compost autumn leaves, dry twigs, saw dust, corn stalks, wood chips, paper egg cartons, shredded paper.

“Nitrogen”: “Moist Greens” are like carbohydrates for your compost. Feed your compost kitchen waste (fruit and vegetable peelings, over ripe fruit), grass clippings, leaves, chicken manure or horse manure.

Extra yummy ingredients: Egg shells! Coffee grounds and used tea bags! Bone meal, blood meal, or alfalfa meal (high in nitrogen), woodstove or fireplace ashes (high in potash and carbon), Crushed rock dust (rich in minerals). A shovelful on each layer should do the trick.

Things to omit: No Fat! That means no dairy, no avocados and no meat!

Balance

Your base materials should be about ½ brown and ½ green. Too much “Dry Brown” or “Moist Green” and your compost will not “cook” properly. If you simply pay attention, you’ll get a sense of when your balance is getting too “dry and brown” or too “moist and green.”

Moisture

Not too wet and not too dry. The compost should be like a wrung-out sponge. If you feel your compost is too wet, add more “Dry Browns”. If you feel your compost is too dry, add more “Moist Greens” or even water.

Oxygen

The bacteria, enzymes and organisms that aid composting require oxygen to survive. Turn your compost every week or so. Use a shovel or turning tool to blend. If you have a composter that allows for easy turning, turn it!

Location

Choose a location that gets equal parts sun and shade during the day.

Is It Ready Yet?

Your compost is ready to use when it is crumbly and dark brown like soil, is no longer hot, and has a pleasant aroma. Before using it, break up any large clumps, Many people like using a large mesh sieve to sift the compost.