How To: Compost

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Throwing a banana peel out the car window doesn't mean that it will decompose naturally. Plant remains and other once-living materials that made it to the city or towns need to be recycled in a systematic way. Enriching garden soil and reduce the amount of garbage sent to landfills through composting.

Outdoor:

  1. Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile.
  2. Add brown materials (dry leaves) and green materials (grass clippings or old annual flowers) as you collect them, making sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded. In total the pile should be at 3 cubic feet.
  3. Your compost pile should have an equal amount of browns to greens and alternate layers of organic materials of different sizes. Do not add animal waste, meats, oils, dairy, diseased plants, weeds that have
    gone to seed, or plants treated with pesticides or herbicides to your compost. They could harm the plants, attract pests, or create odor problems.
  4. Moisten dry materials as they are added. Proceed with caution! Adding too much water could make the pile smell and too little could slow down decomposition.
  5. Once your compost pile is established, mix grass clippings and green waste into the pile and bury fruit and vegetable waste under 10 inches of compost material. Add in a shovelful of finished compost or garden soil to help kick start the microbial activity in your pile.
  6. Optional: Cover top of compost with a tarp to keep it moist. Turn the pile once a week to move material from the outside of the pile in. Turning makes sure the decomposition proceeds at a normal pace.
  7. When the material at the bottom is dark and rich in color and you can’t differentiate any of the different materials in it, your compost is ready to use. That can take a few months.

Indoor:

  1. Punch holes in a garbage can. The microbes that actually do the composting need oxygen to do their work.
  2. Break your plant debris into small pieces and place them inside the garbage can. As with the outdoor pile, you should be using an equal amount of green and brown material. Put in whatever you have at the
    moment. You don’t need to fill the whole can just yet.
  3. Time for some moisture! Spray water over the chopped plant material inside the can, until the material is damp but not soggy.
  4. Put the lid on the can. Let the magic happen.
  5. Place the filled garbage can on bricks or pieces of lumber to keep the can off the ground. This will keep it from rusting.
  6. Turn the can daily if you can, or at least once a week. To turn, lay the can on its side and roll it around to mix the plant material inside.
  7. Add more plant material at any time.
  8. Keep the compost about as moist as a wrung-out sponge by spraying it with water when the plant material begins to feel dry. The danger of slowing down decomposition and smell applies both outside and inside.
  9. After one month, you should be ready to go! When you first harvest your compost, use a wire screen to strain out the unfinished compost. You want to make sure you’re only using the good, finished stuff.