Compost at Home: Reduce Waste. Improve Soil.
Scraps from your kitchen can improve your soil health and grow more beautiful plants!
Composting is a wonderful way to make your garden more fertile while keeping kitchen waste and yard debris out of your trash and landfill. With a bit of planning, you can turn your waste into the highest quality soil conditioner to improve soil health and increase microbial activity to grow more vigorous roots and healthier, more robust plants.
Now is a good time to start! A healthy batch of compost can take three to six months depending on several factors such as weather, what you add to the compost pile and how you manage it.
Start with a good location for your pile. A warm, sunny spot will help break down your compost faster, but will also dry it out more quickly, slowing things down. You may need to supplement moisture. Shady places can slow the decomposition process, especially in cold climates.
If you have enough room for a large pile, there is no need for a container. Smaller landscapes and urban gardens will need something to contain the debris. Compost bins can be purchased or constructed from a variety of inexpensive materials. There are numerous rotating tumbler bins that make regular turning less work.
Depending on how you would like to use the final product, you can make the process as much or as little work as you are willing to do. If your goal is primarily to keep your landfill waste to a minimum, you can simply combine your materials and let them rot on their own. When finished, this type of “cold” compost can be used in landscape beds or in your lawn. If you plan to use finished compost in your vegetable garden, it’s worth it to put in more effort.
Adding to the Compost Pile
There are two groups of material that can decompose into compost: green and brown.
- Green Materials: Fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and lawn clippings
- Brown Materials: Leaves, soil, newspaper, cardboard and other paper products
- Avoid: meat or animal waste, weeds or diseased plants are items you don’t want to add to the compost pile. Plants infected with fungal diseases or roses infected with Rose Rosette Disease must never be added as they can spread to all your plants through the finished compost.
Get the most out of decomposition by layering the different ingredients in the pile or bin evenly. You need about a 50:50 balance of these two types of waste. Green items break down quickly, but an excess will cause odor issues. Brown materials are quite slow to break down on their own so chopping, tearing or cutting them apart will help them break down faster. A good ratio of each type of ingredient causes important microbial activity to begin quickly, causing the pile to heat up, which speeds up the break down, plus kills pathogens and weed seeds. Turn your compost pile weekly to continually mix the materials and keep good air circulation to speed up decomposition.
Here at Soils Alive, we make our own compost that we then turn into liquid compost. This nutrient dense concentrate is applied to the soil most months as a key component in our Soil Building program. Lawns, garden plants and even trees, grow beautiful and strong in soil alive with microbes that aid in nutrient uptake by roots, improve soil texture and increase both drainage in rainy seasons and moisture retention in summer.
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