Composting at Home
Composting accelerates the decomposition of biodegradable materials through a natural heating process, activated by beneficial microbes. The process results in a humus-like product that is applied to garden soil surfaces or used as a soil amendment that:
- Provides nutrients and trace minerals to growing plants over an extended period of time
- Retains soil moisture for plant uptake over time
- Encourages beneficial microbial activity in the soil
- Forms air spaces in the soil for oxygen
- Neutralizes soil pH
- Reduces the need for fertilizers and chemical treatments
- Improves structure of soils high in clay or sand
The structure of the composting unit is left to your imagination and material availability. Consider a loose pile, a vented container, untreated wooden bins, wire cages or a tumbling unit. A cubic yard of material will ensure enough mass is present to maintain ideal temperatures, although some manufactured composting units are effectively designed to contain less capacity.
A good mix of materials, oxygen and moisture will allow beneficial microbes to flourish, causing heat for the accelerated decomposition of the source material. Once the material reaches higher temperatures, it will cool down. Mixing the contents will reintroduce oxygen into the material, allowing the contents to reheat for faster decomposition and keeping odors in check.
Batch Compost Recipe
- Brown carbon-rich materials such as leaves, dried vegetation, straw, untreated saw dust, untreated paper.
- Green nitrogen-rich materials such as untreated grass clippings, plant trimmings, fruit & vegetable trimmings, coffee grounds
- Mix 25-30 parts of chopped or shredded brown material with 1 part of green material.
- Cover with a thin layer of soil to reduce odors.
- Keep the moisture level similar to a wrung out sponge.
- Let ingredients rest a few days to naturally heat to about 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
- When material cools, mix and cover with a thin layer of soil.
- Repeat the previous two steps until the batch is finished with a dark, crumbly appearance and sweet, earthy aroma.