{Eco tips} How to Make Compost

The lowly compost pile is actually one of the most eco-friendly things you can do.  It decreases the amount of garbage set out for pick up, while reusing the nutrients.  It saves money by providing essentially free fertilizer for your lawn and/or garden, while decreasing the use of chemical fertilizers which deplete soil in the long run.

Good compost is an excellent fertilizer.  If made with a variety of materials, it often contains trace minerals not ordinarily found in commercial fertilizers.

How do you make compost?  It couldn’t be easier.

1.      Decide where you are going to put it and how you are going to enclose it.  There are many types of ‘bins’ sold for this purpose.  They range from covered cans to keep on your kitchen counter to giant rounds that you can roll around the yard to mix them.  I’ve always just used a corner of my yard.  Mine are behind the garage, though they aren’t really unsightly and could be in a convenient corner by the house.  You can also make a round wire cage using about a 9 foot section of 2 or 4 inch mesh wire that’s about 3 feet tall.  Fasten the ends together using pliers.

2.      Gather a variety of green materials.   Vegetable and fruit scraps and peels, grass clippings, coffee grounds, egg shells and  spent flowers are all good.  No meat or bones.

3.     Choose an activator.  An activator is a source of nitrogen and protein, which help break down the materials.   There are many choices of activators.  Manure, if you have it, is a good activator.   You mix it throughout the green material, so it actually breaks down fairly quickly and odor isn’t a big problem.    Alfalfa meal is also a good activator.    You can buy it as “Litter Green” a kitty litter product.  You can also use a high protein dog food.    Bone meal, cottonseed meal and  blood meal are also good activators.

4.       Now, layer your materials.  Green materials first, then a layer of activator, then more green material, then more activator.  Moisten the pile, but don’t soak it.  Continue to do this as green material becomes available.

5.      Wait a week, then turn the pile.    The compost should be coarse, but ready to use in 15 days.

Happy Gardening!!

{Top Image} by Katrinarodabaugh

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  1. I re-use a big plastic container that formerly held coffee to keep my compost scraps in the kitchen until I can take it out to the compost pile. I’ve *never* had any problem with unpleasant smells, it holds several days worth of compost fodder, it’s a free container, and you can recycle it when you no longer want it. I do recommend marking the container as “Not Coffee” to warn any visitors in your kitchen.

    Our local newspaper uses soy ink, so I shred the regular non-glossy pages and use it in my pile. Also, don’t compost any diseased plant material or you might spread the spores and bacterial throughout your garden!

  2. I started my compost a few years ago. I was looking for a better activator. I will have to try some of the ones mentioned! Good read! Thanks.

  3. Thanks so much for writing this article! It’s a lot more simple than I was anticipating!

  4. It’s amazing how fast compost can shrink after it starts to decompose! I don’t often have enough to dig into the soil, so I usually scoop mine into a bucket and fill it with water, pouring off the “tea” to water my garden with.

  5. We finally set up a compost. should have done this years ago since it’s so easy! We have the worms-type of composter and wow, do we have the worms!

  6. I love my compost. I started it 2 years ago and it was when I realized how happy it makes me to finally put food scraps where they belong and not in the rubbish.
    Do it!