Easy Steps To Starting Your Own Compost
When it comes to composting the benefits are numerous. Not only does it establish a nice nutrient rich soil for your garden, but it helps to cut down on your everyday waste you produce. That’s a win-win situation! A classic example of turning your trash into treasure. It’s also much easier to get started than you might think!
When I decided I wanted to venture into making my own compost, the amount of information I came across was overwhelming. However, once you wade your way through it all, the basic concepts are really quite basic and straight forward. It boils down to figuring out if you want to use a bin or a pile, and what you can compost. I chose to use a bin, and found out I can use a plastic storage tote I already had on hand. This method was not only pretty simple to follow, but it was also very budget friendly.
6 Simple Steps To Starting Your Own Compost
Step One- Prepare The Bin
Begin by drilling 8 to 10 holes each in the lid, bottom, and sides of the plastic bin. This allows the oxygen in that is needed for the composting process to take place. I already had a large plastic storage tote for the project, but you can find them at just about any hardware store, or even Target or Walmart. Any bin taller than 24 inches tall should work fine. You will want to choose one with a tight fitting lid to keep out “critters” tempted to raid your bin. Once holes are drilled on each side, place the bin on top of bricks or blocks to keep it slightly elevated from the ground. This ensures that drainage is possible if needed. It will also allow airflow.
Step 2- The Bedding
To get your compost officially started you will want to get your bedding layer made. You will do this by adding any combination of the following items to your bin until it is about 1/4 full.
- shredded paper (think newspaper, brown grocery bags, junk mail, etc.)
- peat moss
- dry leaves
- small pieces of cardboard
- saw dust
Step 3- Add Soil
Once you have your bedding layer down, add potting soil or already established compost until your bin is about halfway full. Since this was my first compost bin, this is something that I needed to purchase from my local plant nursery. It can also be found at most large hardware stores.
Step 4- Start Adding Items You Wish To Start Composting
You are now ready to start composting. Items such as lawn clippings, vegetable peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, and paper can be added. (see list below) . You do NOT want to add anything fatty, or containing meat, or dairy. You also do not want to add processed food, such as breads, pastas, chips etc.
Step 5- Mix and Moisten
Mix well and spray with lukewarm water just until mixture is moist. Check every few days to keep your compost moist but not wet. If your compost starts to smell bad you may be over watering. Continue to mix your compost weekly to make sure oxygen is getting into mixture. This is necessary for decomposition
Step 6- Add Daily
Continue to add to your compost daily. In about 6 weeks your compost should look like soil. This is when you know it is ready. You can use the compost on the bottom layer as it becomes ready and keep adding to the top. Many people keep a small container of scraps in there kitchen they add to throughout the day, that they empty into their bin daily and cover with some of the soil. This seems to be a pretty easy process.
Acceptable items to compost:
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, it will get you started.
- grass clippings
- dead flowers
- vegetables and fruit peels
- dead leaves
- shredded paper/ small bits of cardboard
- coffee grounds
- eggs shells
- dog/cat feces/litter
- coals/coal ash
- glossy magazines
- processed foods
What are your thoughts on composting? Is this a practice you have established or would like to try? Why or why not?