Is it important to learn how to start composting?
What are some of the best ways to do this?
What are the steps involved when you’re learning how to start a compost process in your home?
Understanding how to compost properly is an important step on the journey to a more sustainable lifestyle. Composting is a quick, easy, and healthy way to take care of much of your household’s waste while fertilizing and caring for your plants and garden at the same time.
There are many good ways to begin composting. In this article, we’ll show you the basics to give you a brief but thorough idea of how to begin composting. Even if you’ve never tried composting before, you should be able to find plenty of information to help you below.
Read on to learn more about how to start a compost pile.
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Before You Begin
Learn what you need to gather and accomplish before you begin composting by reading through this section and familiarizing yourself with the beginning of the process. It’s important to take care of these steps before you begin in order to give your compost the best possible chance at success. Check out the tips below:
- Set aside a good location. Picking the right location is crucial; you’ll need to decide whether or not to use an enclosed bin or to simply set up a pile in the backyard before you go any further.
- Begin collecting compostable materials indoors before depositing them outdoors. An inside composting bin will make it easier to collect the household’s daily food waste.
- Check with any local ordinances to ensure you aren’t breaking any rules. Some cities, counties, or HOAs may have rules about where, when, and how much you can compost in your backyard. By checking into this before you begin, you’ll give yourself a better chance at avoiding problems. This will also ensure that you won’t have to move your composting pile once you have it set up.
- Decide on the composting method you want to use. There are several options to pick from, some of which are easier than others. Two of the most popular include the following:
- Traditional composting – This type of compost involves collecting indoor waste and taking it to an outdoor composting pile. From there, the compost is turned, heated, and aerated until it breaks down completely. This process takes a little while, depending on what and how much is added to the pile.
- Worm bin – This is a smaller-scale composting solution that works well for apartments and smaller households. You can set up an indoor compost pile, complete with worms to help break it down, and harvest the compost when it’s complete. From there, the compost can be delivered to a location that accepts it or it can be used on plants in your home instead.
Steps to Get Started
Now that you’ve taken care of the setup, it’s time to get started composting! In this section, we’ll show you all the steps you need to take your compost from start to finish. When you go through this process correctly, you’ll be able to use your compost for all sorts of purposes.
First, pick a good spot.
Many people choose to place their compost near the edge of the backyard. This option may be surrounded by a stone or brick wall, or it may be fenced off from view entirely. Some people build storage-type buildings over the location of the compost. Where you place your compost is up to you, but be sure to choose a place with enough heat, but not too much.
Next, build your compost, starting with some soil on the bottom.
It’s a good idea to start your compost with the same soil that’s present in your backyard, unless you absolutely can’t do this for some reason.
Add a layer of brown material (carbon).
This may include dry leaves, sawdust, or paper. This offer can also include cardboard, but cardboard takes longer to break down, so you may want to save this for a little later.
Add a layer of green material (nitrogen).
Grass clippings are a good choice for green material, but you can also use coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable leftovers, or healthy non-weed plant trimmings, too.
Add more soil.
A little more soil on top of the pile will finish off your compost’s layers and get it ready to begin the process of actually composting. You don’t need to put much soil on top, but again, try to choose dirt that comes from your backyard if at all possible.
Sprinkle some water on the pile.
You don’t need to put much water on the compost to get it started. Do not oversaturate the compost, as this will cause it to die before it has a chance to get started. Use your water hose to just add a little bit, and adjust throughout the process if you see the pile getting too dry.
Allow the pile to heat.
This may take several weeks. The heat of the sun will warm your compost and will cause it to begin the process of breaking down the waste inside. During this time, you shouldn’t smell much of an odor from the pile. If you do, there may be issues you need to resolve.
Turn after some time has passed.
You’ll need to use a shovel to turn your compost after a few days have gone by. You may want to turn the compost once or twice a week, but you can adjust this time frame depending on the size of the compost pile and what you have added to it.
Wait until compost forms.
Give your pile some time to do what it needs to do. Remember that composting doesn’t happen overnight, and try to keep mental track of what you put in the pile. If you added something that takes a while to break down—like a lot of large branches—remember it’s going to take even longer.
What else do you need to know before you get started? Here are a few tips to remember as you learn how to start a compost bin:
- Be careful of the temperature. If the temperature is too low, microorganisms won’t form and compost will not occur; if it’s too high, good bacteria will be killed off and won’t be able to process the compost.
- Be careful of the moisture. Compost that is too wet will not aerate enough and will become anaerobic. This will cause the compost to “die.”
- Don’t start with complicated materials. Stick to fruit and vegetable peelings and leftovers, bread, eggshells, and lawn waste for your first few rounds of compost. When you get the hang of it, you can start on more difficult waste.
- Don’t add pet waste until you have an established composting bin. This way, you’ll know the compost is heating enough to kill off any harmful pathogens in the waste.
- Break down materials whenever possible before adding them to the compost pile. This will make them quicker to compost.
Keep all this in mind as you move forward through your composting experience toward a healthier, happier, and more sustainable lifestyle for yourself and your household.