Composting For Beginners – Turning Food Scraps Into Garden Gold


Composting is an effortless, low-cost solution to improve the soil in your garden while diverting waste from landfills and mitigating climate change.

Composting comes in many different forms, but the key element is striking a balance between “greens” (food scraps and coffee grounds) and browns (dry leaves and paper bags).

Start with a Bin

Those new to composting have two options for starting off: specially designed bins or large plastic storage containers with lids are best. A lid keeps odors at bay, keeps out larger critters such as squirrels, raccoons, birds as well as protecting any nutrients-rich liquid that leaches out – known as compost tea – used to nourish houseplants, trees or gardens.

Basic bins should be 18 gallons or larger with an airflow vent on either end and should contain 8-10 small holes at the bottom of your container to help air circulate, speeding up decomposition processes. In order to blend into your garden more seamlessly and prevent being seen as an eyesore, your bin should also have darker hues so as not to stand out too much from its surroundings.

Once your bin has been assembled, place it in a sunny location within reach of a water source – this way, when needed you can water it with ease! Water should also be added regularly as needed in order to prevent drying out and promote microorganism growth.

Food scraps are the primary component of compost, though other items such as egg shells, paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, torn-up cotton cloth and torn-up newspaper may also be added. Meat, dairy products, fats or oils should not be included as this could attract pests while hindering microorganisms from doing their work properly resulting in rich, dark and crumbly compost that’s ready for fertilizing gardens or plants.

Add Greens

Turning food scraps and lawn mulch into compost can be an inexpensive way to grow your garden, while at the same time giving back to the soil–much like adding money back into an account that keeps giving back! Compost is also a fantastic way to give back so it can continue providing benefits in future!

Compost is made through decomposition, where microorganisms break down organic material by eating and digesting it. This material includes kitchen and garden waste such as fruit and vegetable trimmings, coffee grounds and egg shells as well as grass clippings, leaves and twigs – as well as grass clippings, leaves and twigs – among many others. For optimal compost production you need both green (high in nitrogen content) and brown (richer in carbon content) materials to form what are known as Green/Browns; microorganisms combine these materials and turn them into Humus which helps plants flourish!

Begin collecting green and brown waste in an easily accessible location on your counter or under your sink, then designate an outside space for your compost pile or bin. Make a habit out of regularly adding scraps so there will be enough material available throughout the year for composting!

Be sure to add both wet and dry material to your compost pile, since too much wet waste could become smelly or attract rodents and flies, while too little dry waste won’t heat up and decompose into humus as quickly. Additionally, turning your pile often (like using Tinder for trash) improves aeration and speeds up the process – this can be done using either a pitchfork or shovel.

Add Browns

Browns provide essential carbon rich elements, helping to offset food scraps’ high nitrogen contents. Microorganisms require this combination to thrive; consider it like creating an ideal compost sandwich! Think about greens and browns both being involved!

Start by layering 2–6 inches of course materials such as twigs and sticks, followed by food scraps shredded into smaller pieces to accelerate decomposition.

As part of your compost bin maintenance efforts, it is essential that you know which materials should not go in. These may include meat and bones, dairy products, whole eggs and grease. Furthermore, citrus peels, coffee grounds or any acidic food items could lead to slower decomposition processes if included. A tumbler or kitchen compost bucket with charcoal filter could help control unpleasant odors faster and hasten decomposition processes if no room for backyard piles exists in your community garden or community garden donation program is available near you; ShareWaste offers matching services between composters with food scrap donations through its app platform that connects composters with food scrap donors who could then contribute.

After several months, your compost should have a distinct earthy fragrance with little trace of food scraps remaining. Once complete, it can be used as a nutrient-rich soil additive in your garden and is an engaging natural process which keeps organic material out of landfills where it emits methane (an 84x more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide) while also being free. Composting requires patience and persistence but is an invaluable way of diverting waste away from landfills.

Add Water

Composting doesn’t need to be difficult or time consuming – in fact it can even benefit the environment by reducing methane emissions and creating richer soil.

Successful compost piles depend on finding an optimal balance of carbon-rich “browns” and nitrogen-rich “greens.” Aim for three parts brown material per one part green material by volume; too much green can quickly decompose into an unsightly mess while too little brown will slow decomposition process.

Shredding organic materials (such as fruits, vegetables and leaves) into small pieces before adding them to your bin or pile can speed up decomposition by increasing surface area and making microorganisms more effective at breaking down materials. Regular turning also ensures an even distribution of oxygen throughout the pile.

Some moisture is essential for decomposition, but too much will suffocate the process if your pile becomes too wet. When this happens, stir in coarse dry materials such as dried leaves, straw or shredded paper to balance out excess moisture and reinvigorate the pile.

Once your compost is complete, it’s ready for use in the garden or added to existing soil in planters or pots. Just remember to avoid dairy products, meat and fish scraps, oil and fat (such as lard), pet waste or diseased plants as these can attract unwanted pests. If necessary, sawdust or coffee grounds can also help deodorize. If you lack space or time to compost by yourself, ShareWaste and similar online services provide services which match you up with other people in your community who may possess more advanced systems or acres where organic waste can be turned into something valuable for both parties involved – perfect if your own time or space constraints prevent you from doing it on your own!

Turn It Often

Compost is a nutritious black material that enhances soil structure by increasing its ability to retain water, acting as both a natural fertilizer and waste diversion solution. Compost can also keep waste out of landfills while providing essential nutrition to houseplants, vegetables and gardens – it’s easy enough for everyone in the family to pitch in.

Compost bins are available at garden centers or you can make one yourself from wood pallets and drill holes into its lid – regardless of which container is chosen, there are a few basic steps that must be followed to start it up:

Start by layering carbon-rich materials like dried leaves, paper, straw or shredded newspaper. Next comes an array of green materials like vegetable scraps, fruit peelings and coffee grounds.

Mix the pile using a shovel or pitchfork, which will improve aeration and encourage decomposition. The more often you turn your pile, the faster it will break down into compost.

Compost piles should consist of approximately one third green waste (nitrogen-based, wet waste) and two-thirds brown matter, such as newspaper shreddings, bits of cardboard, sawdust from untreated wood, or spent potting soil. Meat, dairy products and oils will slow the decomposition process considerably – avoid adding them as these items attract insects that deplete its richness. It may be helpful to have a pail or bin in the kitchen that you can collect food scraps into and add them directly when full; remembering to chop larger food scraps will help expedite their decomposition even faster!

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