A Beginners Guide to Composting that will easily get anyone started creating rich garden soil Today. Here’s what you need to know.
As a gardener, you probably already know just how important composting is. A person that is able to properly compost should be able to see much more success in their garden. Without having that cycle of decay and rebirth, if you think about it, life on this planet wouldn’t be the same. Mind you, composting is more than just a way to develop your own fertilizer, free of charge. It is a great way to close the nutrient cycle, reduce waste and prevent air population that is said to cause climate change.
Here’s something we find interesting – by composting, you can remove between 20 to 50 percent of the waste stream from your household, which means that is less waste that is sitting there, filling up the landfills. While, at the same time, you will be using it to replenish your trees, lawn, and houseplants. Also, if you have to pay for trash pick-up, composting can help you save money along those lines as well. So really, by composting, you have a “win-win” situation.
Sure, you could always send that organic matter to the landfill where it can decompose, but what happens here is it ends up decomposing anaerobically …this means it decomposes without oxygen. This is a process that creates methane, which is a greenhouse gas that is much more potent than carbon dioxide. In the United States, landfills have been listed as the third largest source behind methane emissions.
What Can You Do about it?
What you can do is start composing your food and organic waste at home, instead of tossing it in the landfill. By doing this, we would be decreasing the amount of methane that is released. Point blank, food is something that should not be sent to the landfill.
For gardening, compost just so happens to be one of the most powerful ingredients. Regardless of what you do with it, whether you choose to use it as mulch around those beautiful trees and shrubs or till it into those garden beds to produce lots of healthy vegetables and flowers, it is an essential ingredient.
Once the compost is in the soil, it buffers pH, increases fertility, breaks down toxins, prevents diseases and of course, improves the structure of the soil.
Even if you don’t have a garden, composting would still be a good idea. By returning the organic waste back to the soil, we can help rebalance the nutrient cycle in Mother Nature.
If you’re not exactly familiar with composting, we understand that you may feel like it is hard to get started. However, it is much easier than you think. Today, we are here to help you figure out what you should be composting and what you should avoid.
The Basics of Composting
Before we give you a list of what you should be composting, we’re going to run you through the basics of composting in order to give you an idea of what to expect.
Believe it or not, composting is simple. Basically, anything that once lived at one point in time or anything that was created from a living thing is able to be composted. The item needs to contain all natural components and as long as it does, it will decay and eventually return its nutrients back into the soil.
A compost pile can be easy to start. It could involve tossing in stuff like dead leaves, veggie scraps and grass clippings in a corner of your back yard. However, on the same note, there are compost bins that you can buy in order to keep everything neat …or you could make your own compost bin.
There are different types of compost bins that you can get to fit every situation. You have tumblers, pallet bins, and towers. The tumblers are our personal favorites – all you have to do is put your compost materials in the tumbler and give a couple spins to the compost every few of days. Go here to see a guide on how to pick the best compost bin for your home. We reviewed several of the top rated compost bins that are available. Check out the best compost bins here.
A Handy Helper When Composting-The Compost Pail
A compost pail is a HUGE help in the kitchen. It keeps all your food scraps neatly tucked away until you’re ready to transfer them to your compost pile or bin. Many compost pails have charcoal filters in the lids that are effective in preventing foul odors from escaping into your kitchen. The pails can be kept on or under a counter making them a very convenient way to collect scraps. You’re able to collect scraps for up to a week without making constant trips to your compost pile. If you’re like me, you’re much more likely to continue composting if it’s convenient as possible. Here are some of the best compost pails on the market to keep those scraps out of sight and out of mind.
Greens and Browns-Keep a Good Ratio
Nature will take it’s course no matter how you compost. Just throw all that organic waste in and watch the magic happen. To make that process go by faster though, you’ll need to know about “greens” and “browns”. The “Greens” are rich in nitrogen and include things such as veggie peels, grass clippings, and manure. “Browns” are rich in carbon and include dried leaves, cardboard, and straw. Everything that you’ll compost will fit into one of those two categories. An easy way to think about it is anything that has a lot of water content is a “Green”, while anything dry and lacking moisture is a “Brown”.
Keeping a good ratio of the Greens and Browns does two things. First by keeping a balance between the two, compost will cook much faster and you’ll have finished compost sooner. Secondly keeping a good ratio will prevent anaerobic composting which can be a bit smelly. Its not an exact science but a good ratio to shoot for is 25:1 or 25 parts Browns to 1 part Greens.
Basically if you’re compost looks soupy or smells bad, just add some Brown material. If you the compost is dry and dusty, throw in some Greens. Don’t over think it! Just throw everything in and it will all work itself out. Its really hard to mess up compost, and believe me I’ve tried but I still come out with rich garden soil.
Many gardeners call compost “black gold” for a reason. Honestly,us gardeners can never seem to get enough compost for all of the above reasons.
A Bullet List of Things You Can Compost
Here’s a list of things that you can start composting today …
Your Kitchen Is A Great Place For Compost Ingredients-Compost These…
- Coffee grinds
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
- Egg shells
- Tea bags (as long as they’re made of natural materials like cotton or hemp)
- Coffee filters
- Loose leaf tea
- Paper bags (shredded up)
- User paper towels
- Coconut milk
- Unwaxed cardboard pizza boxes
- Nut shells
- Pizza crusts
- Peanut shells
- Energy bars
- Wine corks
- Avocado pits
- Old herbs and spices
- Old jelly
- Paper muffin cups
- Melted ice cream
- Moldy cheese
From the Office
- Envelops (shredded)
- Old business cards (shredded)
- Sticky notes (shredded)
Compost These From Your Laundry Room
- Old cotton clothing
- Dryer lint
- Old cotton towels
- Old cotton sheets
(rip the clothing, towels and sheets into pieces)
Compost These From around Your House
- Dust bunnies
- Junk mail (Not the glossy ones though)
- Burlap sacks
- Flowers from floral arrangements
- Used matches
- Natural potpourri
- Contents from your dustpan
- Old rope
- Ashes from the fireplace
- Dead leaves
- Grass clippings
Party and Holiday Items
- Latex balloons
- Crepe paper
- Wrapping paper rolls
- Jack O’ Lanterns
- Hay bales
- Christmas trees
- Evergreen garlands
- Bedding from your gerbil, hamster, rabbit, etc.
- Fur from your dog brush
- Horse, goat, or cow manure
- Newspaper from the bottom of a bird cage
- Fish pellets
- Alfalfa hay/pellets
What to Avoid Putting in Your Compost Pile
Here’s a list of what you need to avoid putting in your compost pile:
- Onions and Citrus Peels – Yes, fruit and vegetable scraps are great for putting in a compost piles, but you should avoid onions and citrus peels. The acidity in onions and citrus peels can kill worms and the other microorganisms. This could slow down the decomposition.
- Glossy paper
- Sticky labels on the fruits and vegetables
- Sawdust that comes from treated wood
- Synthetic fertilizer
- Meat scraps
Can you imagine the difference you would be making if you composted everything that you could possibly compost? You would definitely be doing your part on making a difference on earth, and your garden will “thank you.”