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Tips on Composting

Composting is a simple way to add nutrient-rich humus which fuels plant growth and restores vitality to depleted soil.  It’s also free, easy to make and good for the environment. Using compost improves soil structure, texture, and aeration and increases the soil’s water-holding capacity.  Compost loosens clay soils and helps sandy soils retain water. Adding compost improves soil fertility and stimulates healthy root development in plants. The organic matter provided in compost provides food for microorganisms, which keeps the soil in a healthy, balanced condition. Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus will be produced naturally by the feeding of microorganisms, so few if any soil amendments will need to be added.

Tips for better composting

1. Don’t throw away your kitchen scraps — add them to the compost pile. Kitchen scraps are typically high in nitrogen, which helps heat up the compost pile and speed up the composting process. Egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peels and scraps are all outstanding materials to add.

2. If you’re composting with a compost pile, bigger is often better. Heat builds up with a big pile. You don’t want to get much bigger than about 3 feet by 3 feet though.

3. Keep your compost aerated! If you are composting with a tumbling composter, make sure you turn it whenever you add new materials. If you are composting with a pile, or in a static (non-tumbling) compost bin, be sure to mix up the contents so that the pile gets oxygen and can break down effectively.

4. Don’t let the compost completely dry out. A compost pile needs moisture to keep the composting process active.

5. Don’t keep your compost too wet so that it gets soggy and starts to stink. Just as too dry is bad, too wet is also something that you should avoid.

6. Too much of any one material will slow down the composting process. If you have all leaves, all grass clippings or an overload of any other single type of material, it can throw off the balance of the pile. In general, it’s good to keep a mix of green and brown material.

Looking for more tips and information on composting? Check out the publication Composting and Mulching.