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Composting For The Beginner

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 4



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     Composting is beneficial in so many ways.  Approximately one-third of all refuse is compostable.  Composting cuts down on the amount of waste going to landfills.  It provides a material far better for conditioning soil than any chemical fertilizer. It gives us an opportunity to teach children how to be responsible citizens, and it saves you dollars.  Making green choices is best for everyone.

     The scientific processes that take place, when you compost, may be complicated, but composting itself is simple.


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1.  In your composter, you can put fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells (smashed), coffee grounds, tea bags, leaves, lawn clippings, seaweed, an occassional sheet of wet newspaper, peat moss, soil, ashes, and straw.

2.  Never put meat or fish or bones in your composter, or you will attract unwanted guests.



     There are many different types of composters, or you can make your own, or you can compost on the bare ground.

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     1.  One choice is the tumbling composter.   These tumblers lie or hand on their side on a base.  There is a hinged door at the top through which you put your scraps.  To keep your compost well stirred up, simply turn the tumbler round and round on the base, after each deposit.  Some tumbling composters have handles others have a stationary base on which you roll the tumbler.  There are always holes at the base of the tumbler for aeration.  Some tumbling composters have a catch pan underneath into which the liquid compost 'tea' drips  for later distribution.


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     2.  There are also compost bins.  The best bins allow you to add composting materials at the top, and remove completed compost from the bottom.  The advantages of such a composter is that no stirring is ever required, and the compost never needs to rest.

     3.  There are also the composters that you build yourself.  If you choose to build your own composter, make sure to leave room for air to enter and circulate.   One type of composter can be built from an old garbage can.  Just drill a few holes in the top and here and there around the sides.  A metal can is ideal because you can cut an exit door near the bottom.  Bend it closed for now.  When the compost begins to build up, you can bend the door open, extract some lovely compost and then shut it again.

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     You can also use plastic garbage cans or large plastic bins, but remember the holes.  You can even make a drop-down composter by cutting the bottom out of one plastic bin, and putting it on top of another.  Cut an exit door on the bottom bin and you have a no-stir composter.




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     More attractive bins can be made of lumber to blend with the landscape.  Double, side-by-side, bins are advantageous in that one is in use, while the other rests.

       If you're handy, you can even make your own tumbling composter.    

     4.  If you don't choose to buy or make a composter, you can simply compost on the bare ground.  Composting on the ground has one great advantage.  Worms can enter from below and help with the composting process.  You must keep the contents moist and warm with a plastic tarp.

     If you use any type of composter, except the composting bins with a top entrance, and a bottom exit, there will come a time when you need to let your compost heap rest and age.  At this time you will need an alternative site in which to compost.  This is where a cheap garbage can or plastic bin composter will come in handy.


     1.  Start off with a layer of dry leaves, straw, soil, or peat moss. 

     2.  Add layers of composting materials.  First one of kitchen scraps, and then one of leaves, dry grass, peat moss, or soil.  The kitchen scrap layer is considered the green layer, and the next layer is considered the brown layer.

     3.    Continue alternating layers.  Keep the layers thin, and spread out.


     Spread your grass clippings and leaves out to dry before adding. 

     To avoid having a smelly container of scraps in your kitchen, keep them in a covered container in the refrigerator. 

     If you live in a hot dry area, occasionally sprinkle you compost with water.  

     If you have no grass clippings or leaves, peat moss is an excellent substitute. 

     Unless you have a tumbling composter or a no-stir composter, you will need to occasionally turn your compost by hand.





Oct 17, 2012 6:01am
To produce compost is the key to a fine garden. Thumbs up!
Oct 17, 2012 12:30pm
Thanks Askformore - and it really is that easy - B.
Oct 18, 2012 8:11am
Great article! I'm looking to start my own mini garden so I'm trying to get as many tips as possible. I'm big into organic produce so the more I can grow (within certain limits of course), the less money spent at the grocery store and I will know exactly how my fruits & veggies are handled. If you have any suggestions for starting an organic home garden that would be awesome! Thanks for sharing...
Oct 18, 2012 11:38am
Hi Luckydragon7 - great that you're going organic - I would make sure to buy organic seeds and make sure they aren't old - check out what you like to eat and the price you pay - for example I grow what is most expensive to buy, such as tomatoes and kale, and pass on things like carrots, which are relatively cheap, even organic - I will put some things together and write an article later - thanks for your interest and taking the time to comment - B.
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