Learning how to make compost is easy and can reduce the amount of organic trash going to the curb every week. Composting will help you reuse some of those kitchen scraps, like that left-over salad, and give you a rich, fertile soil for your garden. All organic matter eventually decomposes. Utilizing this fact, you can easily compost that organic material by providing an ideal environment for bacteria and other decomposing microorganisms to thrive. The final product, humus or compost, looks and feels like fertile garden soil.
How to Make Compost
Look for easy ways to make compost in your own yard, with the material you would normally just toss – like grass and leaves. Decomposing organisms need four key elements to thrive: nitrogen, carbon, moisture, and oxygen. For best results, mix materials high in nitrogen (such as clover, fresh grass clippings, and livestock manure) and those high in carbon (such as dried leaves and twigs). If there is not a good supply of nitrogen-rich material, a handful of general lawn fertilizer will help the nitrogen-carbon ratio. Moisture is provided by rain, but you may need to water or cover the pile to keep it damp. Be careful not to saturate the pile. Turning or mixing your compost pile provides oxygen. Frequent turning yields faster decomposition.
You can easily make compost out of vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, livestock manure, sawdust, and shredded paper. Although there are many easy ways to compost kitchen scraps, make sure you don’t compost diseased plants, meat scraps or dog and cat droppings, which can carry disease. To avoid attracting flies and insects, make a hole in the center of your pile and bury the waste. You can also invest in a compost bin or tumbler. Check on any local or state regulations for composting in urban areas — some communities may require rodent-proof bins.
Composting is easy and an excellent source of organic matter to add to your garden or potted plants. It helps improve soil structure which contributes to good aeration and moisture-holding capacity. Compost can also be used as a mulch material. Studies have shown that compost used as a mulch, or mixed with the top one-inch layer of soil, can help prevent some plant diseases, including some of those that cause damping of seedlings.
For more easy ways to make compost visit the Natural Resource Conservation Service, which is under the Department of Agriculture.