Composting – Food and Yard Waste

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Composting is the process of recycling organic waste to create a healthy, nutrient rich soil amendment you can add to your gardening practices. This natural amendment will reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and directly benefit the soil in your garden.

Did you know that almost 60% of what we throw out in households can be composted? An easy way to compost your food and yard waste is to build or buy a composting bin. These bins work by helping to reduce the amount of organic waste that is deposited in landfills.Waiting for your compost to decompose can be a little time consuming, so to help alleviate some of the wait you can find composting bins online. While you can purchase a composting bin, it is more practical to build your own. It not only saves you time, but money as well.

A municipality of sorts that will deal with waste in the community. Some communities will deal with having a city garden while others promote self-reliance and environmentally friendly living.

The process of composting is actually easy; just preparing the beds for your future garden. For those who prefer to build their own compost bin, here are things to think about when beginning this process.

The most important thing to keep in mind is the need for moisture. You do not want your pile to be too wet, so try to plan it accordingly. Also, you will need to place the bin in a location that will give the pile some moisture, as without moisture, it will be impossible to break down the materials.

Another important thing to keep in mind is the temperature. Compost piles should be kept between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Too much heat can cause anaerobic conditions which will stop the decomposition process. There are many ways to think about keeping your pile cool. You can choose to mix the pile with straw or pine needles, in an attempt to contain the heat inside. These methods can deal with the heat, but can be quite messy.

Another option is to look into using an enclosed container like a worm box or tumbler. There are pre-made worm compost bins that can be purchased, while others can be made using sturdy wooden boxes. During the winter, you may want to keep your worm box indoors with a lid. While there are many pre-made bins available, you can design and make your own using any materials you have available.

Where to Place the Container

In order to keep your compost healthy, it needs good aeration to move the materials from the bottom of the pile to the top. So where you locate your container is very important. Some like to have the pile in the back yard, others on the side of the house, and others on the side of the fence. Here are some thoughts on locations:

Next decomposition starts at the bottom of the pile. The materials that you add on the bottom will be the ones that will break down first. Use green materials and these are mostly kitchen scraps such as eggshells, fruit and vegetable scraps, rice, corn husks, and coffee grounds. Use these same greens at the bottom of the pile and these will break down first.

Materials that will not break down first but will add moisture and attract worms are items such as: meat and fish scraps (do not include carnivores), wood ash and sawdust from pressure treated wood.

How to Make the Pile

The pile needs good aeration so as to help the worms digest their food. This air is contained in a container known as an aeration stone. This is also where the moisture from the yard comes from so don’t use grass clippings in your pile. Worms do not like moisture; therefore, they will quickly die in piles of moist grass clippings.

The pile needs both soil and water for maintenance. While worms do not need constant moisture, they do need the quick-rotting, high-oxygen liquid oxygen for respiration. This is also the oxygen that the beneficial insects need.

When the compost pile is about half full, it is time to aerate and mix the pile. This is fairly easy to do with a pitchfork or garden fork. Simply squeeze the sides and shake the pile until it begins to loosen. A stiff object, such as a rake, helps loosen the pile. This allows the worms to move up into the pile.

Adding Food

Any organic material helps with your decomposition efforts, including vegetable and fruit scraps, crushed eggshells, and coffee grounds. Don’t feed the pile very much of the same items that you don’t want to break down. It can keep the pile from being successful. Some people like to add sawdust, ground-up cloves of garlic, hair-snips, andinky worms. Some people prefer fruit and vegetable mash, yogurt, and cereal.

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