Make Your Own Compost

Composting is a simple, inexpensive way to improve your soil, save water, and give your plants the nutrients they need to grow and produce.

What You Need

  • A place to compost–a compost bin or an unused area of your yard where you can build a pile
  • An assortment of compostable materials
  • Water

How To

  • Decide where you will compost–if you need a lot of space, you can create a simple, open pile in an unused area of your yard or build a wood and wire cage to contain it, if you have less space or live in an urban environment, an enclosed bin is probably your best bet (you can either purchase one or build your own)
  • Combine compost materials in your bin or pile, many people prefer to alternate layers of browns and greens—for best results use approximately 1/3 greens to 2/3 browns
  • Add just enough water to dampen the pile, you want it to be about as damp as a wrung-out sponge
  • Turn the pile by mixing the contents of your bin regularly for quicker composting

Compost Ingredients
Greens

  • Kitchen scraps including fruit and vegetable trimmings and peels, stale or moldy bread, eggshells (rinse first)
  • Coffee grounds and used tea bags
  • Fresh yard and grass clippings

 

Browns

  • Dead leaves
  • Dried grass clippings
  • Shredded newspaper (many use inks that may be toxic—use only those that print with soy-based inks, for example the San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Used paper towels
  • Vacuum cleaner bag contents

Do Not Compost

  • Meat or dairy products
  • Diseased plant materials
  • Weeds with seeds or viable roots
  • Pet waste

Learn what else you can compost at WebEcoist.com.

Troubleshooting
Problem: Slimy and smelly
Cause: Too much green material or too wet
Solution: Add more dry browns and mix well

Problem: Not breaking down
Cause: Too much brown material or not enough water
Solution: Check dampness of pile, add more greens and/or water and mix well

Problem: Inconsistent break down
Cause: Scraps are too big
Solution: Make sure all pieces are 2 inches or less in diameter, the smaller you chop your scraps and shred your paper, the quicker and more consistently your compost will break down

Problem: Pests
Cause: Exposed, rotting kitchen scraps
Solution: Bury scraps below a layer of browns; omit all meat, dairy and other fat-containing kitchen scraps

Problem: Seedlings
Cause: Seeds from fruit and vegetable scraps root in compost
Solution: Gently remove seedlings, plant in pots and see what grows

For more information visit:
Howtocompost.org
VegWeb.com/composting

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