- Enriches soil, helping retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests.
- Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.
- Encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material.
- Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
Browns and Greens
In order for a compost pile to decompose efficiently you need to create the right ratio of carbon to nitrogen. An I deal compost pile has a 30:1 Carbon to Nitrogen ration. For example grass clippings alone have a 20:1 Carbon to Nitrogen ratio.
Having a good mixture of green and brown materials makes for a much healthier compost pile. Brown Materials are carbon or carbohydrate rich and are great sources of food for organisms that will breakdown compost. Green materials are rich in nitrogen or protein and will heat up the compost pile.
- Fall leaves
- Pine needles
- twigs, chipped tree branches/bark
- Straw or hay
- Corn Stalks
- Dryer Lint
- Cotton Fabric
- Corrugated cardboard
- Grass clippings
- Coffee grounds/tea bags
- Vegetable and Fruit scraps
- Trimmings from perennial and annual plants
- Annual weeds
- Animal manure
How To Start A Compost Pile
- Start your compost pile on bare earth. This allows worms and other beneficial organisms to aerate the compost and be transported to your garden beds.
- Lay twigs or straw first, a few inches deep. This aids drainage and helps aerate the pile.
- Add compost materials in layers, alternating moist and dry. Moist ingredients are food scraps, tea bags, seaweed, etc. Dry materials are straw, leaves, sawdust pellets and wood ashes. If you have wood ashes, sprinkle in thin layers, or they will clump together and be slow to break down.
- Add manure, green manure (clover, buckwheat, wheatgrass, grass clippings) or any nitrogen source. This activates the compost pile and speeds the process along.
- Keep compost moist. Water occasionally, or let rain do the job.
- Cover with anything you have – wood, plastic sheeting, carpet scraps. Covering helps retain moisture and heat, two essentials for compost. Covering also prevents the compost from being over-watered by rain. The compost should be moist, but not soaked and sodden.
- Turn. Every few weeks give the pile a quick turn with a pitchfork or shovel. This aerates the pile. Oxygen is required for the process to work, and turning “adds” oxygen. You can skip this step if you have a ready supply of coarse material like straw. Once you’ve established your compost pile, add new materials by mixing them in, rather than by adding them in layers. Mixing, or turning, the compost pile is key to aerating the composting materials and speeding the process to completion.