Backyard Composting

     Composting is the natural decomposition of organic matter. Over one half of your household garbage is organic! Composting's end product whether using food, leaves, vegetable matter or soft paper is humus, the substance that gives topsoil its dark color. Examples of compostable materials : leaves, straw, pine needles (Small amounts), grass clippings, garden vegetables, old bakery, coffee grounds, food materials, and "soft" paper (tissue, napkins, and paper towels).

Click Here to Learn how to build a backyard Composting Pile

The table below can help you start your own Backyard Composting area.

MATERIAL Preparations/Cautions
Leaves, straw, old hay These materials should form the bulk of your compost pile.
Pine needles Small amounts, < 1/10th of the total compost pile volume.   Lime may help to neutralize acids.
Grass clippings/Aquatic vegetation Mix well with straw or leaves.
Small branches <1/2" in diameter Shred or cut, try to keep lengths to 8" or less.
Garden vegetables Cut up long stems and stalks.
Pumpkins, melon rinds Cut into 4 - 5 inch pieces.
Any kitchen vegetable scraps
Coffee grounds, Egg shells
Examples: carrot/potato peels, apple cores, broccoli stems, lettuce leaves, old tomatoes, corn, peas, beans, etc...GOOD STUFF! Mix with leaves/straw/hay.
Moldy bread/old bakery Tear into pieces.
"Soft" paper products Soft paper also is a good carbon source and will absorb excess liquids.
Old milk and cheese Pour milk over pile.
Used cooking oil, salad dressing, gravy or sauce Pour into used tissues/paper towels, cover with 1 foot of leaves or straw.
Meat scraps, fish cleanings Avoid large amounts in a small area; cut fish into 5 or 6 inch pieces; cover with 1 foot of leaves or straw.
Newspaper, waxed cardboard, wet cardboard, cereal boxes, or paper grocery/bakery bags Shred or tear to reduce size, a good carbon source and will absorb some excess liquids.
How to build a compost pile:
  1. Use mostly high carbon content materials such as leaves & straw.
  2. Place a layer of dry leaves about one foot thick in the bottom of the bin.
  3. Add food & paper waste by burying them into the leaves.
  4. Add water sparingly. It is better to be too dry than too wet.
  5. When the first leaf layer is full of food add another
    foot of leaves
  6. Turn the pile once a week, once a month or once every six months (the more you turn, the faster you'll make compost!)
  7. End product is great for gardens and flowerpots.

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