How to make compost at home

27% of the US municipal solid waste is made up of yard trimmings and food residuals.  That is a lot of waste which could be used in good measures.  Creating a useful product from organic waste offers benefits of resource efficiency.   Adding compost to your garden or container plants will infuse the soil with nutrients and help your plants grow stronger and healthier. Compost is essentially organic matter and may be purchased or created at home.

To form compost, collect a mix of green materials (coffee grounds, fruit cores, eggshells, grass clippings, leaves) and brown materials (newspaper, sawdust, branches, twigs) in a container with enough water to dampen all of the material. Turn the compost once a week to keep it mixed, allowing helpful bacteria to break down the raw materials into a rich, fresh compost. Mix your compost into the soil before you plant, or spread it across the top of the garden to give growing plants a boost.

The benefits of composting are exceptional for the earth:

  • Reduces and/or eliminates the need for fertilizers
  • Promotes a higher yield of agricultural crops
  • Reduces the need for water and pesticides
  • Enriches poor soils
  • Encourages the production of bacteria and fungi that crease a nutrient filled material
  • Suppresses plant diseases and pests

If you aren’t positive which food waste in your home is useful for compost, here are is a suggested list that uniforms well with composting:

  • Cooked or uncooked grains
  • Vegetable and fruit wastes, even if they are old and moldy
  • Old bread or anything that is made out of flour (crackers, pizza crust, etc)
  • Outdated boxed pantry foods
  • Corn cobs and husks
  • Coffee grounds and tea bag filters

It is crucial to never compost meat (including fat, gristle, etc), fish, dairy or grease of any kind.  Composting these items will attract rodents, bugs, maggots, and breakdown the otherwise nutrient dense waste.

Composting yard waste benefits gardens and landscaping as well as reducing landfill space and methane gas production in landfills.  Yard waste materials that can be used for composting include: grass clippings, straw, and non woody plant trimmings (if branches and twigs are desired to be of use in the compost, be sure to shred branches and twigs greater than ¼ inch in diameter).

If you choose to use fresh manure in your garden, a proper composting structure must be applied.  Note if any commercial manure has already been composted.

  • Manure should be added slowly to the compost pile, generally over several days or weeks, and plenty of air flow should circulate throughout the compost bin.
  • Compost should be turned regularly as manure is added.  When you plan to use the compost for the garden, the addition of manure to the compost pile should be halted two months prior.
  • Horse, cow, sheep, rabbit, and bird manure are acceptable uses, however; never use manure from household or meat eating animals.

Composting food scraps at home is a fundamental part of the home composting process.  It is an eco-friendly approach to food waste and an inexpensive alternative to chemical fertilizers.  Using food waste over the winter and turning it into compost will provide a wonderful natural fertilizer to next spring’s bountiful garden.