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  • Easy Composting for the Beginner!

    October 04, 2013 2 min read

    As soil prices climb what would be better than starting a rich, organic compost pile. It’s easier than you might think and you'll know exactly what is in your soil. Composting is the layering of organic matter and letting is decompose into a rich humus. 

    A quick list of starting materials…

    • Grass clippings, plants, leaves and branches from the yard. Do not compost any plants infected with disease. Also note that very thick, highly glossy leaves (like those from Rhododendrons) take much longer to compost.
    • Fruit and vegetable scraps
    • Coffee grounds
    • Egg and nut shells
    • Straw or hay
    • Paper and cardboard scraps
    • Plant material/weeds


    It is best to stay away from trying to compost meats, fish and dairy as they will smell and can attract undesirable pests.

     Shredding, grinding or chopping your material before adding to the composting pile will quicken the process. If your pile does not contain about 1/3 grass clippings you may want to add another nitrogen fixed plant to your heap to speed up composting. Manure is also a good nitrogen-rich amendment.

     If at all possible, pick a well protected spot for your pile that is out of direct sunlight. Ultimately your developing compost will need to be slightly moist at all times to properly decay. Too much water, or too little will stop the process. A light watering from time to time if in a sunny spot or drier climate may be necessary.

     The compaction of all these organic materials when they are piled on one another will generate some heat. When the center of your composting pile cools, it signals the need for turning it over and mixing. A simple pitchfork works best for this practice as it shreds materials while you mix. Generally, a pile should be mixed anywhere from every 3 days to bi-weekly. The more it’s churned the faster the process will go! So make sure your composting pile is in an accessible spot. The compost enclosure should be well ventilated.

    There are so many structures online to inspire when designing your bins. I've found it's best to have two or three separate bins, so while one might be close to ready to use in the garden you're dumping foliage and food scraps in a separate bin and not adding to one that's already decayed completely. Wooden pallets make great enclosure walls and are an economical option. Be sure to top it off with a water proof tarp to keep out excess moisture.

     Remember, when it comes to getting started with composting – keep it simple. As you get the hang of it, you will be able to add more materials and create more compost. Before you know it, you’ll have less waste & healthier gardens.


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