Starting a Compost Pile at Home

composting keeps yard trash out of garbage dumps

Starting a compost pile at home is easier than you might think. It’s not the messy, smelly heap you might have envisioned.

For me, it’s the best alternative to throwing it in the trash.

Composting your organic waste keeps it out of the garbage dump .

Another benefit is that it puts nutrients back into the soil you use for organic vegetable gardening or cultivating ornamentals.

It’s a win-win situation!

Here’s an Easy Compost Recipe

Start out with a compost container of your choosing, or spot in your yard. You can buy a special bin, called a compost tumbler, which rotates your scraps and clippings easily. Or you can build a compost bin. It’s not really necessary, though.

kitchen compost container

I collect all my kitchen scraps daily in a plastic container with a lid.

Each evening I take it out to my back yard where I put it right into a shallow hole we dug and mix it in with dirt and yard clippings. Easy as pie!

I made a believer out of my husband. It doesn’t smell or collect bugs. Best part about it is, harldy no trash left.

our paper, plastic, glass, and cardboard takes care of the rest.

What Goes Into the Compost Pile?

Anything that is organic matter—anything that comes from plants or trees.

Use 2 parts brown (which is high in carbon dioxide) to 1 part green (which is high in nitrogen) material for more rapid decomposition. Without this ratio, organic material will still decompose. Although not as quickly.

Layer brown stuff at the bottom of your container or pile:

layer brown material

 Fallen leaves, dried twigs

 pine needles, dead plants, grass clippings

 Paper towels, cardboard cut in pieces

 shredded non glossy paper

 Stale bread

NOTE: If you live in the country or on a farm you can add manure from horses, cattle, goats, poultry and rabbits.

Layer green stuff on top of that (best if your scraps are organic):

layer green materiallayer brown material

 Veggies and fruit scraps

 Coffee grounds and tea bags

 Eggshells, pasta and rice leftovers

Be sure to check out what not to put in.

Turn over 1 to 2 times per week to add oxygen to the compost. More turning faster humus production. Or not. I’m very laid back when it comes to my compost pile. I just let nature take care of it.

turn your compost to aeratekeep your compost moist

Add water to help break down the organic matter. How much depends on the amount of moist scraps you are adding.

Bad odors are a sign that the heap is too moist or contains excessive green materials. Turn to mix air in and add more brown/dry material. If you have ants, heap is too dry. Add some wet stuff or water, and then cover with grass or cloth to retain moisture.

What Not To Put in Your Compost Pile

Meat, fish & dairy scraps, oils, fats, very sugary or salty stuff, sawdust from treated woods, clippings from herbicide treated grass, manure from omnivorous animals (cats, dogs, humans, etc)

What To Do With It

As I said before, no need to stress. It will compost! So I throw everything in together. I don’t worry about layering and don’t worry about how quickly it decomposes. And miraculously, it does!

I started out using a large compost barrel with a lid. I would put in my scraps and add some soil from my back yard.

Every once in a while I would turn it over. Then it got too heavy for me so I stopped using it. After a couple of months, I was frankly scared to open it. I expected a smelly mess. To my surprise it had turned into beautifully dark soil. Nature knows best!

Tiny organisms--bacteria, fungi, and protozoa--start breaking down your pile resulting in a decayed or decomposed mass of organic matter. This becomes nutrient-rich food for your soil and plants.

Once your compost pile turns into healthy, rich compost—or fertilizer basically—you can use it as potting soil for house plants or in your garden. Use it for your organic vegetable garden for the best medium to grow your veggies.

Note: If you live in an apartment or don’t have easy access to the outdoors, worm composting, or vermicomposting, is the best alternative. You use a container with worms to decompose your waste. But I’ll talk more about that in another article.

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