To all you plant lovers looking for a way to make your garden look lush and green, try composting! Composting is a fantastic way to eliminate waste in your home while improving your soil to build a garden that all your neighbors will admire. Whether you live in an apartment or a house— composting is something that we can all do!
Benefits of Composting
To begin, compost typically comprises 3 components— greens, browns, and water. Layers of greens include grass clippings, coffee grounds, and even vegetable scraps— greens are essential, as they increase the nitrogen level in your soil (“Composting at Home,” n.d.).
Conversely, browns are comprised of dry leaves, twigs, unbleached and chlorine-free paper plates, napkins, post-its, hay, old spices, pet hair, pine needles, and even dust found behind your refrigerator. Browns help to create nutrient-rich soil, as these particles increase your earth’s carbon levels (“147 Things You Can Compost And 9 Things You Can’t,” n.d.).
As for water, keeping your compost moist is crucial as it helps break down the materials quickly. An easy way to test if your compost has the correct amount of moisture is to see if the leaves in your bin are damp to the touch. The second way to check your compost’s water levels is by picking up a handful of soil and squeezing it. If water floods out, it is too moist— on the other hand, if you press the soil and no water trickles out, it is too dry (Richard, n.d.).
Here’s What You’ll Need
Whether you are composting indoors or outside, we recommend a sealed bin. You can purchase one of these specialized compost bins at a garden or hardware store. Keeping the container sealed will decrease the likelihood of bugs and vermin from inviting themselves into your home and reaching your compost bin. Besides that, all you’ll need to remember is to save your scraps along the way!
To begin, start with twigs or other course materials that will help to create a sturdy bottom layer for your compost bin. Next, cover the twigs with dry leaves— now, you can keep alternating between a layer of greens and browns until your container is full. A helpful tip when composting indoors— keep food particles in your freezer until it is time to add a layer of greens to the bin. This will help to eliminate the scraps from smelling and attracting bugs while you wait for the appropriate time to add these particles.
The goal is to add these scraps around 10 inches below the surface of the developing soil, as it is ideal for quickly decomposing these types of compost items (“Composting at Home,” n.d.). Be sure to avoid fibrous foods, dairy products, and meat scraps. Fibrous foods take a while to decompose, while dairy and meat products will cause your compost to create a pungent odor.
While composting is a great way to eliminate wasting unwanted materials, there may be times when it is difficult to find items to add to the brown’s layers of your compost. One great way to combat this struggle is by collecting leaves during the fall season and saving them in a bag for later use.
What Do You Do with Your Completed Compost?
Compost can take anywhere from four to six months until it is ready for use (“7 Easy Steps to Composting,” n.d.). When it is complete, it will smell earthy and turn a vibrant, dark color. You can use the finished product to top off your flowers or grass a few times a year. Another great option is making ‘compost tea’— you add the compost to a steep bag and submerge it overnight in a water bin. In the morning, you will remove the soil and use the water to sprinkle over your plants or lawn.
If you have attempted composting, tell us about your experience in the comments below! Sharing both our success stories, as well as our learning experiences is a fantastic way to grow and create better habits in the future.
7 Easy Steps to Composting. (n.d.). City of Leduc. Retrieved from https://www.leduc.ca/composting/7-easy-steps-composting
147 Things You Can Compost And 9 Things You Can’t. (n.d.). Backyard Boss. Retrieved from https://www.backyardboss.net/things-you-can-compost/
Composting at Home. (n.d.). United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home
Richard, Tom. Water— Cornell Cooperative Extension Operator’s Fact Sheet #3 of 10. (n.d.) Cornell. Retrieved from http://compost.css.cornell.edu/Factsheets/FS3.html