Composting is a gardening activity that many homeowners are interested in learning about, and often find easier to accomplish and more rewarding than they expect. Composting is one of the best things you can do for your home garden – it is safe, natural, and richer in nutrients than commercially packaged fertilizer. Additionally, it is completely free and reduces your home’s impact on the environment! Here’s how to get started composting the right way.
What is Composting?
The process of composting involves the decomposition of green waste (which is rich in nitrogen) and organic matter (which is high in carbon). The optimum balance of these two materials is the key to successful composting and a healthier garden. Generally, a 50/50 ratio of green waste and organic matter is the goal, and best for most home landscapes and gardens.
What Kinds of Materials Work for Composting?
Nearly 30% of a home’s waste output is considered green waste, suitable for your compost bin. Some of the most common items to include are:
- Coffee grounds/tea leaves
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
- Plant trimmings and fresh grass clippings (free of pesticides)
The other ingredient you’ll need is organic material that is rich in carbon. This includes:
- Dried grass clippings
- Dry fall leaves
- Newsprint, brown paper, or cardboard, shredded or cut into small pieces (use sparingly)
Setting Up Your Compost System
To ensure your compost system produces rich material for your garden, you’ll want to follow a few good practices to achieve effective results. Choose a flat, easily accessible spot on your property that gets some sun and has great drainage for your compost bin. Most folks find that a stationary compost bin (also known as a continuous bin) is the best choice – they typically have lids to keep little critters out. Dark colored bins with a lid also help to generate heat, speeding up the process.
Create a 12-inch base layer of straw and leaves to allow air to circulate before alternating layers of green waste and organic materials. Ensure that you always add a fresh layer of organic material after adding a layer of green waste, and mix the contents in your bin every two weeks to promote aeration and decomposition. You’ll notice that the compost pile does shrink over time, so continue to add layers until the bin is full. A good practice is to harvest the compost for use in your garden every six months.
Design and Build Your Dream Home with Columbia Builders
Columbia Builders is the home builder of choice in Howard County, offering homes in Ellicott City, Elkridge, Laurel, Columbia, Marriottsville, Fulton, Clarksville, Dayton, and Brookeville. No matter what the size and scope of your project, we have the skills, experience, and resources needed to bring your vision to life. We offer a level of customization that is truly unmatched and are committed to using materials and craftsmen of the highest quality, so you can trust that your new home is built to last.
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