Composting

lady compostingComposting is a form of recycling that transforms discarded organic material into another useful product through the process of decomposition. These organic materials will decompose whether we compost or not. Composting just quickens the process. 

Home composting does not require a Ph.D.. It is not an exact science. Remember, decomposition will occur whether you help it or not. Your efforts will only quicken the process to turn organic matter into humus (a dirt-like material).

If you need help in building and/or maintaining a compost pile after reviewing the below information, please contact us. We will either mail additional information to you or personally visit your home.

How Do I Get Started?

Building a compost pile is basically building an ecosystem for the bacteria, fungi, and insects that will breakdown your organic materials. Compost piles should be a minimum size of 3 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft. This size provides the organisms with the needed protection from extreme heat and cold. Many individuals prefer enclosing the pile in a compost bin but it is not really necessary.

What Materials can I Compost?
The following list is not complete. For further information contact our Program.

 Compost  Don't Compost
  •  Wood ( in small pieces )
  • Pine Needles
  • Coffee filters & Grounds
  • Tea Bags
  • Vacuum Cleaner Link
  • Horse and Cow Manure
  • Sawdust
  • Straw
  • Hay
  • Cornstalks
  • Leaves
  • Egg Shells
  • Grass Clippings
  • Healthy Flowers and Plants
  • Untreated Wood Ashes
  • Fruit and Vegetable Scraps
  • Shredded Newspaper
  •  Salad Dressing or Mayonnaise
  • Diseased Plants
  • Dog and Cat Manure
  • Peanut Butter
  • Vegetables coated in Oil or Butter
  • Oil
  • Butter
  • Bones
  • Meats
  • Fat
  • Dairy Products
  • Charcoal Ashes
  • Treated Wood Ashes
  • Grease


How Should the Materials be Mixed Together? 

Building a compost pile is like making a pot of soup - take a few ingredients (materials), mix well, add water, and stir occasionally. Below is a recipe for a successful compost pile.

•   One Part Green Stuff 
Raw or steamed vegetable and fruit scraps, green grass and leaves 
     *nitrogen enables organisms to reproduction

•   Three parts Brown Stuff
Brown leaves, pine needles, wood chips, shredded newspaper, hay or straw
      *carbon enables organisms to build and maintain their cell structures

•   Water
The entire pile must stay as moist as a squeezed out sponge
      *microorganisms need water to survive

•   Oxygen
The entire pile must occasionally be turned
      *turning the pile provides a fresh supply of oxygen -- microorganisms need air to decompose materials

•   Compost starter
A bucket of good topsoil, compost from another compost pile, horse/cow manure
      *One pea-size amount of topsoil can contain over one billion microorganisms. 
        Not really necessary but it helps get things started.

How Should a Compost Pile Be Maintained?
To maintain a healthy environment for insects, fungi, and microscopic organisms, check the pile periodically to see how it is doing. If a compost pile is very active and is decomposing the material quickly, the center of the pile will be warm to hot -- 120 degrees F to 140 degrees F -- depending on the size of the pile. This heat is generated by the microscopic organisms as they eat the organic material. Unless the pile is periodically turned, the moisture and air that are needed to maintain this healthy environment will be consumed. This lack of water and air will reduce the microscopic organism's ability to eat, thus slowing down the decomposition of the material and reducing the center's temperature. To keep this from happening, periodically turn or mix the pile using a shovel or pitchfork. Also check the moisture content of the pile. If it is drier than a damp sponge, add water and mix it thoroughly throughout the pile.

If the pile is maintained correctly, the materials should start to get crumbly and smaller in size. The pile should also begin to smell "earthy". This could begin to happen in a month or two. When this occurs, the pile is well on its way to becoming humus. 

Three warning signs telling you your compost pile is a ZOMBIE 

Your compost pile probably doesn't let out an inhuman groan while stiffly walking towards you in a mindless quest to eat your brains but it still could be among the walking dead. Find out how to bring your compost pile back to life!