We often receive questions from people curious to get started composting right away. We put together a few tips and tricks on the best practices for composting in your backyard or on your balcony as well as useful links to help get you started.
Mixture: Add a Blend of “Brown” and “Green” Materials
The tiny, naturally occurring microbes that make your compost active enjoy a balance of ingredients. If you have too much of a single item, your compost may eventually go “cold.” So replenish your compost bin with a variety of ingredients such as leaves, grasses, apple cores, coffee grounds, banana peels and vegetable peelings. When adding food scraps to the bin, try to mix them underneath a layer of yard trimmings. Another option is to bundle up the scraps in a couple sheets of newspaper. The bundling absorbs moisture, adds carbon to the mix and acts as a natural liner to keep your kitchen container clean.
Moisture: Keep the Pile as Damp as a Wrung-Out Sponge
Compost piles need moisture, but not too much. The appropriate amount of dampness is equivalent to a wrung-out sponge. When putting together your layers, heavy waste such as sawdust may need extra moisture while wetter ingredients like rotten tomatoes may need to be mixed with drier materials. Shredded newspaper (black and white, not colored) works if you do not have access to sawdust.
Airflow: Your Compost Needs Air Just Like Us
Your organic content will be broken down by a bacterium that requires air. You can achieve this through aeration by turning your pile frequently.
By adding the right ingredients, maintaining an ideal moisture content and encouraging airflow, your compost pile will heat up. Ideal temperatures of 135 – 160 degrees not only accelerate decomposition, but also kill off weed seeds and pathogenic organisms. There are a number of compost thermometers on the market to accurately keep up with the temperature of your compost pile.
With these tips in mind, you will have a nutrient-rich soil amendment in no time. Or, if you want the benefit of a product that’s rich in organic content but don’t want the hassle of creating it yourself, try our Organic Garden Soil.
Here are additional resources for those interested in learning more about composting:
How to Get Started
- Master Composters: Composting basics for your backyard including troubleshooting tips and tricks.
- Balcony Composting:Video how-to on composting in a 5-gallon bucket.
- Apartment & Balcony Composting 101: Video on how to make a balcony or apartment worm bin.
- Rodale Institute From cost savings to soil health to energy efficiency, learn why composting is important.
- EPA Compost Benefits
Learn more on the benefits of resource efficiency and creating a useful product from organic waste.
Find Out More:
- EPA on compost and compostingDocuments and information related to composting.
- BioCycle Journal of Composting and Recycling America’s foremost magazine on recycling or organic materials.
- CORNELL Composting Access to a variety of composting educational materials and programs developed at Cornell University.
- Compost Resource Page A hub of information for anyone interested in the various aspects of composting.
- Master Composters A plethora of reference documents and materials for home composters.
To find more tips and tricks for composting, be sure to follow our Compost board on Pinterest!