Compost is the decomposition of organic material that forms a dark, crumbly, earthy substance that is excellent for enriching the soil of a garden or houseplant. About 30% of this compost material is being streamed into landfills to take up space, instead of being composted and reused for the benefit of plant life. Organic material that is not composted and ends up in a landfill takes longer to break down and harmful gases may be released. Those who do compost tend to only compost about 8% of their organic waste, when more than 60% of household waste is recyclable or compostable.
When using compost on your plants it can prevent the need for harsh chemical fertilizers and protect from plant pests and diseases. In the long run this can save you money and trips to the store for those expensive gardening agents.
For more resources check out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
ORGANIC WASTE FOR COMPOSTERS
- Grass clipping that haven't been exposed to chemicals
- Dried up Leaves
- Saw Dust and Wood Chips
- Hay and Straw
- Tree and Shrub Waste
- Dead Plant life (avoid weeds)
- Fruit and Vegetable Scraps
- Tea Grounds and Leaves
- Crushed Eggshells
- Black and White Newspaper
- Cereal and Bread
- All Natural Fibers, such as Cotton
- Coffee Grounds and Filters
- Much More....
- Plastics and Metals
- Non-Organic Materials
- Dairy Products
- Oil, Grease and Fats
- Pet and Human Waste
- Meat and Bones
- Weeds (may re grow in compost)
- Diseased Plants
- Nut Shells (like walnuts and pecans)
- Pine Needles
- Citrus Peels
- Wood Ashes and Charcoal
When starting compost you need a dry warm area. Also make sure your compost will be able to get air to assist in the decomposition process. A good method to properly store compost is a compost barrel or compost tumbler, the tumbler allows you to add air to your compost regularly without having to use an aerator. Compost will only decompose at temperatures above 50°F, temperatures under will slow down or stop decomposition. For the best mixture of compost, you will need to add nitrogen rich material (green materials along with kitchen waste) and carbon rich material (browns such as dry leaves, sawdust). Make sure to chop the waste up small to speed up the breakdown process. If your compost feels a little dry, add some rainwater instead of tap water. Finished compost will be dark brown, earthy, fluffy, crumbly and have an earthy odor.
BENEFITS & USES
Mulch Compost will protect the roots, and prevent weeds, in your garden or landscape. Make sure to clear the area of weeds before adding your layer of compost.
Enriching Soil Place a 2-4 inch layer of compost onto the top of your garden soil, then mix with the top 5-6 inches of garden soil. This will protect your plants from disease, add valuable nutrients and control moisture.
Compost Tea Compost tea is a great liquid fertilizer for seedlings and transplants. It adds a dose of nutrients to the soil, by just spraying on or pouring around the plant. It is made by soaking a burlap sack filled with compost in a 5-gallon bucket of water for a few days. It will turn a tea color when it is ready to use.