Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Here are some tips on composting

What is composting?
Composing helps break down household and garden materials to provide nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous to your garden and soil. But most importantly, composting is an effective way to reduce the amount of waste in your house and local landfills.

Where should I put my compost container?

Essentially, in order for your compost to be effective it needs four things: organic material, moisture, air, and heat, so keep this in mind before deciding on where to place your container.

Be sure to put it in an area that gets a relative amount of sunlight and loosen up any soil that is under the container beforehand. Once your container is in place, you should add a layer of twigs, small branches, or dead plants before adding anything else to the compost.

Also, try to find a tight-fitting lid for your compost so animals won’t get into it, and be sure to drill some holes in the bottom for drainage.

What should I put in my compost container?
Experts recommend that you put an equal amount of greens (materials that are high in nitrogen), and browns, (materials that are high in carbon). At first you should add a layer of brown material, and then add a layer of green on the top with soil (about one inch).

Here is a list of the most common items that you can put in your compost:

● Leaves
● Coffee grounds and filters
● Flowers
● Leftover fruit and vegetables
● Plants
● Tea bags
● Hair
● Grass
● Wood ash
● Straw
● Sawdust
● Woodchips
● Lint
● Kleenex
● Kitchen scraps
● Egg shells

What shouldn't’t I put in my compost container?

● Meats
● Fish
● Dairy products
● Fats
● Barbecue charcoal
● Bones
● Oil
● Feces
● Peanut butter
● Card with laminated plastic (e.g. juice cartons)
● Shiny magazines
● Diseased plants
● Anything acidic
● Glass
● Toxic or diseased plants
● Walnut shells and leaves
● Plastic
● Metal

If you add any cardboard boxes, shredded newspapers, or Styrofoam to your compost, make sure you tear them up into tiny little pieces before adding it to the pile,(and be careful not to add too much).

What can I do to speed up the composting process?
Try using a shovel or even a stick to “stir” up your compost to move around the soil. Because you don’t want your compost to get too dry, it may be a good idea to moisten it down with water or even leftover juice. You should poke holes or stir your compost pile once every two to three weeks.

Also, try to cover the top of your compost with a thin layer of brown material (like leaves) to help keep away the flies. And try to add food scraps in the center of the pile rather than around the sides.

I’m having problems with my compost, what should I do?
Composting is a “trial and error” process, so don’t be alarmed if you’re having troubles with your compost container as it is quite common and natural.

If your compost simply isn’t composting, then try to moisten it with water. If your compost gives off any kind of bad odour, it probably means that you have added too many greens to the container. (Try adding some more browns, or top off the pile with a layer of soil). However, if your container smells like rotten eggs, it means your compost isn’t getting enough air. If this happens, you should be turning your pile as much as humanly possible for several days until the odour is gone, and then top it off with a layer of soil.

Also, if you’re having a problem with flies or animals rummaging around in your container, be extra careful to bury all food with a layer of soil, (about two to four inches). If you’re starting to notice a large number of ants in your pile, it usually means that your compost is too dry.

Bio: Lisa Shoreland is currently a resident blogger at Go College, where recently she's been researching math scholarships as well as dental scholarships. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing, practicing martial arts, and taking weekend trips.

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