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Composting at home is a great way to turn waste into gardening magic. By composting, you manage to reduce waste and improve soil quality at the same time; it’s also simpler than it may seem. Check out this article for some general tips on how to make the most of your compost pile.

Organics represent more than 60-percent of our waste stream, and they are actually completely recyclable. Here is where composting comes in. The process consists of recycling organic waste and using the resulting product to improve soil quality. In fact, you have two possibilities: you can both collect the organic residuals and participate in a municipal composting program (more information here), or you can compost at home and use the resulting product for your garden. You can compost food scraps, grass clippings, leaves, tree trimmings, and so on. Doing this, you‘ll help conserve energy and natural resources, while simultaneously reducing air and water pollution.

If you want to compost at home, we’ve gathered a few tips that will help you maintain a good pile while generating a supply of nutrient-rich product to benefit your garden.

Location

Choose the location of your compost pile wisely. Ideally, you should place it on level ground near a water source. It should be close to the house to avoid walking far to dispose of your kitchen scraps. In case you want to turn the pile, it’s a good idea to leave a space of equal size adjacent to the container.

Pick The Right Container

When you compost in your yard, it’s wise to build a bin that will keep the process neater. You can compost in a pile on the ground, as well, but a bin will also discourage animals from interfering with your compost. The structure doesn’t have to be particularly fancy, but it needs to hold all of the ingredients together. In order to avoid going back and forth from the kitchen to the compost pile, you can collect your kitchen scraps in a compostable bag. Compostable bags have the advantage of breaking down in your compost pile. You can also use them to carry groceries. 

Alternatively, there are several containers available on the market hat allow you to compost directly in your kitchen. You could also use a recycled container or a bucket with or without a lid. Either way, make sure that your container permits air to flow through your scraps, as oxygen is an essential ingredient for healthy compost.

Get Great Results

If you want a low-maintenance compost pile, you should fill your container or bin with a combination of brown and green organic matter. Mixed greens – filled with nitrogen – are sources of nutrients and moisture for the compost. Brown elements, on the other hand, represent the carbon source – they provide energy and absorb excess moisture. Greens include food scraps, grass clippings, and garden clean out. Browns include brown leaves, soiled paper, and woodchips.

As long as the nitrogen-carbon ratio is balanced, the compost pile won’t give you any headaches. If you don’t add enough nitrogen, your scraps will decompose very slowly. Too little carbon will cause the pile to produce an unpleasant odor. You can read more about what to compost here - http://eartheasy.com/grow_compost.html.

What Not to Compost

There are a few things that you shouldn’t add to your compost pile, as they tend to attract pests, aren’t very hygienic, or don’t break down. Here’s a short list:

  • Meat, fish and dairy scraps – they tend to attract pests like mice and raccoons; the same goes for bread products (pasta, cakes, baked goods)
  • Cooking oil – it can upset the compost's moisture balance
  • Human or animal feces (including kitty litter) – these present a health risk; the same goes for used personal products (like tampons or diapers)
  • Rice – it causes a unusually fertile breeding ground for bacteria
  • Pesticides or insecticides – these defeat the purpose of your organic compost pile
  • Diseased plant materials – plants that have been killed by disease belong in the garbage can. If you add them to your compost pile, the disease can end up affecting the next generation of plants, as well

Turn Your Pile Regularly

When you compost in your yard, you should turn your pile regularly to get the best results possible; every two or three weeks is enough. Mixing the pile helps to keep air flowing inside and encourages aerobic decomposition.

Taking the time to smartly use your kitchen scraps and other organic waste highly benefits the environment. However, keep in mind that the process can take a while – with well-balanced mixes, around six months. If you are patient, however, your garden will be a success. 

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