Composting your kitchen waste into healthy garden soil might seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few simple tips to help your organic waste – food scraps, grass clippings or other yard and garden debris – decompose into nutrient-packed material to mix into gardening soil or use as a side dressing for growing plants.
Composting Tip #1: Choose a Composter Suited To Your Situation
You’ve decided you are going to compost, so now you have to first decide how you are going to contain the material while it composts. There are three methods: Use a Compost bin outside, a rotating barrel composter, or make an inside earthworm composter. These three ways, in my years of experience, have been the most successful. If you are going to compost a huge volume of waste, the outdoor compost bin is the way to go. If you have only kitchen waste with minimal outdoor plant material then I’d say go with the worm composter. Most small-scale urban composters find the rotating barrel composter to be the ideal method.
Composting Tip #2: Cut Compost Material into Small Pieces
Consistently making sure all your material is cut up, shredded or ground into small pieces will mean it breaks down quicker into usable material. Don’t leave “just a few” pieces big as it’ll slow down the whole process. On the other hand, don’t grind the material into a paste or sludge as it will be too thick for air to circulate and that will inhibit proper decomposition – instead, it’ll rot – you don’t want that. Make sure all your material is approximately the same size when it’s added to the compost pile – an ideal size would be about a half to one inch pieces. You want consistency, and you want the air to be able to flow throughout.
Composting Tip #3: Keep Compost Damp and Aerated
Dry material does not decompose very well, so don’t allow your composting material to dry out. It should be just damp. Too much water will flush out nutrients that will then not be present in your finished compost.
Make sure your compost pile is turned, whether you turn it with a shovel or turned in the barrel. (Worm composters do not need to be aerated – the worms do it for you.) Turning composting material allows oxygen to flow to all the material, which allows decomposition to occur quicker and at a consistent rate throughout. While turning your pile, you can check it for too-dry material indicating you need to add a bit of water to your material.
Composting is Easy and Beneficial
Don’t think composting is too difficult. Once you choose a composting method, it is really quite simple. Adding a bit of water and turning the pile occasionally is about the only work involved – nature takes care of the rest. The resulting rich nutrient-laden soil material will benefit the home gardener by producing bigger, more nutritious vegetable yields throughout the garden. There is no better time than today to begin composting.
More Composting Resources:
- Don’t Put These Plants in Your Compost!
- How to Make Compost Tea
- Composting: Methods and Myths
- Worm Composting
- 3-Bin Composting