Quick guide to composting


by WFAA Project Green


Posted on February 5, 2010 at 4:01 PM


By RAQUEL FAGAN / Earth 911


Turning your organic waste into useful mulch is more of possibility then you may think. This quick start guide will have you up and composting before you know it.

Get a Large Container

Bigger is often better since heat builds up as you add more materials. Though bigger may be better, keep it smaller than three feet by three feet. Often times you can get old trash cans from your city for a small deposit fee. These are perfect and inexpensive compost containers. What other tools are needed?

Add Organic Material

This includes waste from your kitchen, yard and garden. To get everyone involved, put up a list of compostable material in your kitchen to inform others what’s in and what’s out.

What to Compost

  • Fruit and vegetable scrapes
  • Egg shells
  • Lawn clippings including leaves, branches, plants and weeds
  • Shredded paper or newspaper
  • Straw or hay
  • Tea leaves and coffee grounds

What Not to Compost

  • Meat scraps
  • Fatty trash
  • Vegetable or other cooking oils
  • Sawdust or large amounts of wood ashes

Keep in mind that kitchen scraps such as fruits and veggies are typically high in nitrogen. This is needed to help heat up the compost pile and speed up the composting process.

Keep your Mixture Balanced

Too much of any one material will slow down the composting process. Try to keep your green materials (vegetable peels and grass clippings) and brown materials (leaves and straw) evenly mixed.

Aerate your Compost

This can be done in two ways. If you have a composting container with a turning handle, simply rotate your compost on a consistent basis. If your container is not equipped with a turning mechanism, take a pitch fork or a compost aeration tool and mix the compost from top to bottom. A good rule of thumb would be to aerate your compost each time you add something new.

Monitor your Moisture

A compost pile needs moisture to keep the composting process active but too much could make it soggy and smelly. Water it often with a garden hose, increasing the amount of water added in the summer months and decreasing in winter.