Backyard Composting

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Composting is an excellent way to reduce the amount of waste that goes to the landfill.

How does composting help my garden grow?

  • It helps hold moisture in the soil making your plants more drought-tolerant.
  • Compost releases nutrients slowly when your plant needs them.
  • Compost adds macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) and micronutrients (calcium,
    magnesium and boron) to the soil.
  • Compost allows your plants to become healthier and stronger. The result is that they are much more
    resistant to disease and pest problems.

It’s all in the Balance

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlternate layers of green materials with brown materials. Keep the layers
about 3″ deep. Too much green material will result in an overly wet compost pile (which will become anaerobic and begin to smell strongly). If you add a lot of grass, you also need to add a lot of brown material to balance the recipe. The goal is one-half brown to one-half green!

Green, wet materials (Nitrogen-rich)
  • Fresh grass clippings
  • Coffee grounds
  • Green plant trimmings
  • Tea bags/leaves
  • Vegetables and fruits
       Brown, dry materials (Carbon-rich)
  • Straw
  • Dry leaves
  • Sawdust, wood chips
  • Shredded newspaper

What cannot be added?

  • Meat products
  • Cooked foods or grain products
  • Dog or cat feces
  • Dairy products
  • BBQ ashes or coal
  • Grass clippings treated with pesticides

How long does it take?

Compost may take anywhere from 3 – 12 months before it is ready to backyard_composting_5
harvest. The time depends on:

  • Temperature – The compost bin should be hot! Place the bin in a sunny location and be sure to keep
    the balance of green, wet materials and brown, dry materials.
  • Material size – Chop up the materials in 3″ pieces. The smaller, the better.
  • Carbon to Nitrogen ratio – Add equal amounts of brown, dry material with green, wet material.
  • Moisture – The compost pile works best when as wet as a wrung out sponge.
  • Oxygen – Mix the bin contents (aerate) using a pitch fork or an aerating tool. This adds air and gets the
    bin to heat up again. Mix once a week.

The finished product is dark brown, crumbles and smells earthy!

Compost tips:

  • Save your fall leaves for summer composting.
  • Use a rodent-resistant bin.
  • Bury food in the bin to avoid fruit flies.
  • Add a scoop of soil every once in a while to introduce fungi and other organisms to the bin.
  • Harvest in spring-time when your plants are growing.

For more information: