Backyard Composting

Do you have a garden in need of nutrients?  Would you like to reduce the amount of waste in your trash and local landfills?  Do you have unwanted leaf and grass clippings?  Consider backyard composting!  A finished product can be achieved in as little as a few weeks using hot composting or using a low maintenance approach, compost can be finished in several months to a year.  Composting can be done in urban areas as effectively as rural areas.  A large compost pile is not necessary, just allow a minimum of 3’ x 3’ x 3’ area for the process.  Having two or more bins allows for continual building and using of compost so more than one bin is recommended.

Benefits of backyard composting:

· Reduce hauling of waste (reduction of use of fuel, manpower, and time)

· Reduces volume in landfills

· Keeps vital nutrients on your property

· Bagging these materials for curbside garbage collection is a costly practice in taxes and services

· Yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 24% of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream

· Suppresses plant diseases and pest (killing them during the heating process)

· Reduced the need for chemical fertilizers

· Improves soil aeration, structure, water holding ability, drainage, increases buffering capacity, and increases the holding and proper release of nutrients for vegetation growth

How to begin composting?

· Obtain a compost bin, barrel, or construct a structure out of wood, fencing, or other appropriate materials

· Begin layering with 4” – 6” layers of finely chopped high carbon materials, high nitrogen materials, and a one inch layer of soil.  Continue the pattern until you have reached the minimum height of 3’

· Lightly mix the layers with a garden fork after each layer is added

· Water the layers as they are added until they feel like a wrung-out sponge

· Direct sunlight and heavy rain slows the composting process, covering the top of your pile with straw, dead leaves, or other natural mulch provides protection.

· Water as needed so it isn’t dry but not overly saturated

· Mix weekly

· Check temperature to ensure proper process is occurring

· Can produce a finished product in 6 weeks

You can also use the add as you go method

· Start with a base of soil, continue to add grass clippings, vegetable, fruit, and egg shells, leaves, etc.

· Mix weekly and continue to add soil to provide organisms to the system

· Water as needed

· Can produce a finished product in 6 months to 2 years

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