Composting 101: What Is It and How to Start

Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter and is often used by gardeners to enrich their soil. But you don’t have to be a professional gardener to learn how to compost; you can easily DIY a compost bin at home - and here’s how.
But first, why compost? 
  • Composting reduces landfill waste. While organic material will decompose in a landfill, the process is slower and the nutrients are not returning to the soil, thus the benefits of the organic matter is going to waste.
  • Composting is good for the environment. Instead of using chemical fertilizers to break down matter, composting is a completely natural process that does not require harmful chemicals. 
  • Composting can reduce your household waste. Composting can remove 20-50% of your household waste stream. 
How to Start Composting
  1. Find a compost bin. A composting bin doesn’t have to be fancy - you can use a plastic storage bin or a wooden box. 
  2. Add organic materials. Fruits, vegetables, egg shells, newspaper, coffee filters and tea bags are amongst the many, many materials you can compost. Start adding organic materials to your bin and eventually, you will begin to see it decompose naturally. You can also lay down grass clippings and newspaper in your compost bin to help the process.
  3. Add soil. While this step can be optional, adding soil to your compost pile mix will also help the decomposition process. Pour 1-2” of soil and coat your organic material with the soil. 
  4. Add worms. This step is also optional, but adding worms can also help speed up the process of decomposition. If you do decide to add worms, make sure you keep your compost bin in a temperate environment. 
  5. Make sure your compost bin gets air. Airflow is important to helping the materials break down correctly. Make sure to turn your compost pile weekly with a stick or spade. You can also drill small holes into your bin to increase airflow. 
  6. Water your compost bin. Your compost bin should also be moist, but not soggy. The balance of water and air will help microorganisms break down the material faster. Be careful not to overwater it - if your compost pile is too wet, the material will not break down. 
  7. Use your new soil. Once the material is all broken down, you’ll end up with fluffy, nutrient-rich compost soil. You can use this soil for your houseplants or garden. You can also sell it or donate it to your local community garden!
And that’s it - happy composting!

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