Compost by definition is a mixture of various decaying organic substances used for fertilizing soil. Composting is a simple and easy way to add nutrients to depleted soil and increase plant growth; and it’s free!

Benefits from composting:

– Enriches the soil, adding nutrients for plants and helping soil retain moisture.

– Can introduce beneficial organisms to the soil.

– A natural alternative to chemical fertilizers.

– Reduces landfill waste by recycling kitchen and yard waste.

What to compost:

– Table scraps, fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea leaves

– Leaves and grass clippings, garden plants, prunings, straw or hay, pine needles, flowers

– Newspaper, shredded paper, cardboard, dryer lint

What not to compost:

– Meat, fish or bones (can attract pests)

– Oily leftovers

– Weeds that have gone to seed

– Diseased plants

– Pet manures

Compost bin.

Compost bin.

There are several ways to start a compost pile. Some people just start an open pile with no walls to contain it. Some people make walls from random materials and some have containers that can be bought at almost any local hardware store. Any are acceptable and really just depend on your needs, amount and surroundings. For example, I have a container which allows me to keep my kitchen scrap loving dog away. While it keeps the dog out and in the end, is enough compost for my needs, it would limit me in the amount I could make had I needed more. Some people prefer to have two compost piles. By having two, it allows one to be used while the other is still decomposing.

A double compost bin.

A double compost bin.

Someone liked the compost pile!

Someone liked the compost pile!

Yard and garden scraps can be added to the pile for composting. Kitchen scraps can be kept in a metal container on the counter until filled and then emptied when it is full. Mixing the pile every month or so can increase the decomposition rate and aerate the pile. Different items decompose at different rates. Layer wet and dry materials to avoid clumping, i.e. grass clippings that haven’t dried completely can become slimy if clumped together in a large layer. While the compost does not need to be drenched, it does need to have some moisture. This can be done through watering it occasionally or letting it get rained on. Covering the compost pile helps decomposition by helping to retain moisture and heat, and prevent it from being over-watered by rain.

Check out these other composting tips, tricks and ideas.

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