The Benefits of Composting

Taking Care of Your Organic Waste

Composting has several benefits for your garden and the environment. Organic household waste is recycled in compost, which is environmentally friendly. This cuts down on the garbage in our landfills. So, rather than let your organic waste decompose in a landfill, consider using the organic materials as nutrients for your own soil to help improve your garden plants.

Compost is a great fertilizer for indoor and outdoor plants. You can either add compost directly to the soil or use it as mulch in plant beds throughout your yard. Once you begin to move your compost pile from your compost bin into your garden, expect to get some worms mixed in with the compost. This is desirable because those worms aerate and add nutrients to the soil. But before all that happens, you need to gather together all the materials you will use in your compost pile.

Gathering Compost Pile Materials

A Variety of Organic Waste

The first thing you need to do to prepare your compost pile is to collect all of your green and brown yard waste to mix into compost together. Green yard waste are things like grass clippings, while brown yard waste are things like leaves and shredded paper used to add carbon to your compost pile. If you only use grass clippings, eventually your pile will compact and develop a nasty odor.

Next, pick a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin. Place your brown and green materials in the compost pile or compost bin as you collect them. Shred or chop larger pieces so they break down quicker, and moisten dry materials.

Now it is possible to start adding all your organic waste to your compost pile. There are a ton of materials that are perfect for home composting projects, some of which you might not even suspect of being appropriate organic waste for compost. Some of the things you can add to your compost bin without worry are cardboard rolls, (news)paper, coffee grounds (and filters!), dryer lint, eggshells (but not egg yolks or whites), ashes, fruits and vegetables, hair (and fur), straw, sawdust, nut shells, and wool and cotton rags. Pretty cool, right? Just be sure you bury fruit and vegetable waste under about 10 inches of compost material to prevent odor problems.

To contrast all those great materials that are perfect for composting, there are also several types of organic waste and other materials that should NOT be used in a compost pile. These materials may at first glance seem like good candidates for a compost pile, but they should be avoided. Specific materials to avoid when gathering compost materials are meats, pesticides, and pet droppings. Meats create odor problems and attract rodents, and the fats and greases from meat could exacerbate this problem. Pet droppings could have parasites and harmful viruses. And pesticides could kill beneficial organisms in the compost pile.

Turn your compost pile often, as this will speed up the process of preparing the compost for use in the garden. A compost pile should also be damp, not wet. If the compost pile completely dries out, the composting process will slow down. Help prevent your compost pile from drying out by covering the top of it with a tarp. And there are no composting rules that say you only need to have one compost pile. If you have a lot of compost material, make a second, a third, even a fourth compost pile.

When To Add Compost To Your Garden

Before You Plant!

Home Compost Pile

The best time to add compost to your garden is a few weeks before you plant your seeds. This gives the compost the right amount of time to work its way into the soil. And as long as you are not attracting any large pests like rodents, do not worry about some bugs and worms getting into your compost pile. Any farmer will tell you the importance of worms in the garden for improving the nutrient density of the soil, so in this case, those little wriggling fellas are your friends. 

When the material at the bottom is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use in the garden, but do not expect this to happen overnight, as it could take anywhere from two months to a year before your compost pile is ready. If you are worried that your composting process seems to be going too slow, try speeding up the compost process by turning the compost pile more frequently, which is also called the “Indore composting method.” Still, you should not expect your compost pile to be ready in less than a month or two. Have patience, and enjoy the process of responsibly taking care of your organic waste with a compost pile for your home garden!