How Compost Works- From Kitchen to Garden
Nature’s fascinating process of recycling/decomposing organic materials into a rich soil is how compost works. Anything that was once living will decompose. By composting your organic waste you are returning nutrients back into the soil in order for the cycle of life to continue. Finished compost looks like dark brown soil (almost black), crumbly and smells like a forest floor.
How Compost Works- What is Composting?
Composting your yard waste and food scraps reduces the amount of garbage you generate. Yard and food waste make up 30% of the waste stream. Composting helps divert that waste from the landfill, waterways and water treatment facilities. Plus, compost is key to a great garden. Starting your own compost pile ensures a free, regular supply. Watching food, grass and leaves slowly turn in to soil is fascinating. Once you understand how the process works, composting could be one of the most interesting parts of gardening.
How to maintain a good pile
Moisture: You can gauge the moisture level of your compost pile by its fragrance. When you dig around in a heap and don’t smell the desired earthy fragrance, lack of moisture is usually the reason.
Stirring/Turning: Turning the pile is good, but not necessary. It aids in aeration and breaks up the organic matter for faster decomposition.
Good Compost Ingredients:
Leaves, hay and other dead plant material
Fruit and vegetable trimmings
Herbicide-free grass clippings
Manure from horses, cattle, goats, poultry and rabbits
Paper or cardboard, torn into strips or hand-sized pieces
Do NOT Add:
Very fatty, sugary or salty foods
Chips or sawdust from treated wood
Clippings from herbicide-treated lawns
Manure from omnivorous animals (dogs, cats, humans, etc.)
How Compost is Easily Managed
To keep the process of composting easy to manage you need to have a suitable container in the kitchen to store food waste until it gets a trip out to the garden. You will also need an area in the yard where the compost pile can sit while it decomposes. The kitchen container must be tightly sealed and there are even containers available that have a filter to eliminate odors. Your compost pile in the yard needs to be easily accessible so the trip to deposit waste in it won’t be too much of a chore. After the organic decomposing has begun- you will be fascinated by the sweet aroma, the worms, and the fact that the debris is starting to resemble dirt.
How Compost Looks When Ready
The compost is ready to use when you can no longer tell what was in the pile. Keep the compost covered until you add it to your garden to prevent rain from leaching out nutrients.