Composting is a fun and easy way to live a little greener and boost the nutrient value of your soil.
Start with a compost bin. This can be stationary or rotating. The key is to periodically turn the materials inside to aid the decay process by providing oxygen. The more the bin retains heat and moisture, the quicker the results! If you choose a stationary compost bin be sure to place it in the sun because it will speed up the process. The benefit of a compost tumbler is it makes it easy to churn the contents around so that the compost will be ready in a matter of weeks instead of months.
Second, come the ingredients! Brown and green plant matter are the key ingredients. Shredded newspaper, wood chips, and dry leaves make up the brown matter you could use. The green mater comes from kitchen waste like vegetables and fruit, and also grass clippings. You can give your pile a jumpstart by adding a couple of shovels of organic matter gardening soil. It’s best to not add meat products because they are bound to attract pests and pets like mice, rats, raccoons, and dogs.
Then let nature do its magic! Remember that moisture is a necessary ingredient in the decomposition process so in hot and dry weather. Most expert composters say an ideal moisture content is 40% to 60%. Basically if your compost is wet and slimy and has a bad odor, it’s too wet. Ideal compost will become dark and crumbly and smell like fresh earth!
The resources below will help you get started composting!
- General information from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Resources on composting from the University of Georgia Extension
- Ingredients video from University of Maine Cooperative Extension
- Preparing food scraps to compost faster Cornell Cooperative Extension
Written by Guest Blogger: Mary Fenwick Parish, Graduate Student at the University of Georgia, Master of Historic Preservation