It’s not only the best way to get rid of your yard waste, but it’s also the easiest. Composting is nature’s way of turning your yard "waste” into a valuable soil conditioner.
- Saves you money by reducing the need for expensive bags and commercial soil additives.
- Helps your garden and lawn by improving the fertility and the health of your soil.
- Saves water by helping the soil hold moisture and reducing water runoff.
- Benefits the environment by recycling valuable organic resources and extending the lives of our landfills.
Composting Made Easy
Composting is a lot easier than you may think. Organic material breaks down around us in nature all the time. Composting is just a way to speed up the process!
Most compost bin designs are so simple that they can be built in a few hours. Once you gather your yard waste and form it into a pile, the only time you’ll spend is for occasional maintenance. Then sit back and let nature do the rest!
- Alternate layers of green and brown materials; keep layers 2’ - 4’ deep. Common green materials are grass, food scraps (uncooked fruit and vegetables, coffee grounds, filters, tea bags, and egg shells) garden trimmings. Common brown materials are fall leaves, straw and dry newspapers strips. Chop up larger material for faster decomposition.
- Whenever you add a food scrap layer, make sure you sprinkle it with soil and then top it off with a brown layer to prevent smells and flies.
- Mix bin contents often (minimum once every two weeks). Mix older materials with newer materials.
- Moisture content of bin should belike a wrung out dish rag. Only add water if pile is very dry after mixing.
- Pile will shrink. Continue to add mix until bin is almost full. Place carpet on surface of pile to retain heat and moisture.
- Compost is generally ready to use when it looks like humus (after about two or three months). Aging compost another 1 to 2 months is recommended.
Here are three simple ways to make compost bins:
Snow Fence Bin
Buy a length of prefabricated snow fence and fasten two-by-fours to each corner to form square. (For a 4’X4’X4’ bin, buy 16 feet of snow fencing.)
Woven Wire Bin
Purchase a length of woven wire and fasten the ends with several small chain snaps (available at a hardware store) to make a circle. To figure the length of wire needed, lay a piece of string around the outside of the pile and measure it. (For 4’X4’X4’ bin, buy 16 feet of woven wire.)
Block or Brick Bin
Pile up bricks, cement blocks, or rocks to form three sides of a square container. Lay the blocks without mortar, leaving space between to let air through.
Uses for Finished Compost
Compost is ready to harvest when it is reduced to a crumbly, sweet smelling material called humus. If some pieces are not decomposed, you can sift those out and use them to start a new batch. Compost improves soil structure, holds in moisture and plant nutrients, and promotes strong, healthy root systems for plant growth. Here are the most common ways to use compost:
Mix it into Soil
- Mix 3-6 inches of compost into lawn soil before seeding for grass.
- Mix 3-6 inches of compost into garden soil before planting.
- Mix compost into the soil of exposed sloping areas to help fight erosion.
Use it as mulch
Add compost as a mulch around flowers, shrubs, and trees to discourage weeds, help soil retain moisture, and protect roots from alternate freezing and thawing during winter months.