Composting, recycling organic waste materials, is nature's way
of creating a rich humus that you can use as mulch or work into garden or potting soil to
improve it's structure.
Almost any organic material can be used in the compost pile.
Two types of organic material is needed: carbon-rich materials "browns," and
nitrogen-rich materials "greens." Include brown materials like dried leaves, straw, saw dust
and wood chips. Include fresh or green materials such as grass clippings and kitchen scraps.
Quick list of what goes in and what stays out.
List of Brown & Green Materials.
Composting Learning Resources & Supplies
Instructions -- to make compost:
- The organic materials include leaves, grass clippings,
straw, weeds (before they have gone to seed), and plant parts from vegetable and flower
- Avoid using diseased materials or plants that have been
treated with weed killers. Do no include meat scraps and bones because they attract
rodents and dogs. Avoid pine straw because it decays slowly.
- When possible, run the material through a shredder or
run over it with a lawn mower before putting it onto the compost pile.
- Find an area in your yard for your compost to live -
generally one cubic yard (3' x 3' x 3') is a sufficient pile.
- The location should be near a water
source and out of direct sunlight. Remove grass and/or weeds. Don't start your
pile on plastic or concrete - you want to give the earthworm a new home.
- Begin with dry "brown" materials (2 parts), like wood
chips, dried leaves, sawdust, or straw. Layer 6- to 8-inch layer of organic material at
the bottom of the pile. Sprinkle the layer with water and add a layer of soil about 1 inch
thick. Next spread 1 cup of 8-8-8 fertilizer and 1 cup of ground limestone for each 10
square feet of surface area. The fertilizer provides nutrients for the micro-organisms
that help decompose the organic materials.
- If you can get it, 1-2 inches of horse manure can be
used in place of commercial fertilizer. .
- Next add a layer of moist "green" materials (1 part),
such as grass cuttings, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells, dead
flowers, or pruning materials from your garden. Remember to break up twigs or large pieces
of waste material.
- Keep adding layers, alternating "green" & "brown"
materials with a layer of soil. A layer of manure is great too, if you can get it.
- The mixture should be kept wet (water with a hose once a
week to keep entire mixture moist). Ideally your compost should feel like a moist
- You can turn or mix your pile as often as you like -
every 7 days or so - or at least once a month. Your compost needs air; turning it will
help the decaying process and, more importantly, turning prevents unpleasant odors.
A pitchfork works well for turning the pile.
- Add chicken manure or bone meal (for nitrogen) if your
compost isn't decaying. These are available at your garden center. Horse manure is
great if you have local source - use it.
- The finished compost should be ready in less than four
to six months. It is ready for use, when it smells earth and looks like rich dark fluffy
soil. When the compost is a dark brown color and crumbles easily it is ready to use
in your garden! Free compost.
- If you are not applying the compost immediately, cover
and store it.