Compost is a natural dark brown humus-rich material formed from the decomposition or breakdown of organic materials such as leaves, grass clippings, vegetation, vegetable food scraps, and twigs. Bacteria, worms, fungi, and insects need water and air to use the organic materials as food and decompose them.
The benefits of composting are many. Adding organic matter to the soil helps loosen up harder clay, and adds good nutrients to the soil, acting as a fertilizer. It provides a great way to dispose of biodegradable kitchen waste without putting it in a landfill. It helps the garden grow. It’s good for the environment.
What can be Composted?
• Most yard waste such as grass clippings, leaves, twigs, excess vegetation
• Non- fat containing food scraps
• Twigs or chipped branches
• Coffee grounds, tea leaves
What cannot be Composted?
• Large branches
• Fatty foods and grease, meats, dairy products, fish
• Synthetic products such as plastics
• Diseased plants
• Weeds and vegetables that produce abundant seeds
• Pet or human waste
So if you are growing a backyard garden, you should be composting. Never done it? No problem.
There are factory-made compost bins on the market that sell for anywhere from $50 up to $300. These work great, but you can easily make your own for a fraction of the cost.
Bins can be made in various sizes and with a variety of materials. The following easy steps describe compost pile construction:
1. Construct a confining perimeter with 3’ to 5’ diameter and 4’ high. Materials may be concrete blocks, railroad ties, wire mesh, boards, old pallets, other fencing material, barrel, or garbage can with holes for air
2. Layer green (wet) and brown (dry) vegetable matter (1 part green to 3 parts brown)
3. Wet thoroughly, then sprinkle with water periodically
4. Turn every week to speed the decomposition process
Compost Bin Styles
1. Garbage can or barrel – with holes in bottom and in rows about 4-6 inches around sides.
2. Commercial – many varieties usually about the size of a 30-gallon garbage can, found at home supply stores.
3. Three bin turning units are made so that the compostable material can be easily transported from one bin to another, thus reducing the time to produce the compost. They can be made out of a variety of materials.
a. Concrete blocks
b. Wood with wire sides
c. All wood
4. Holding units (for easy passive composting) can be made from many materials, require no turning and are thus slower to produce compost.
a. Wood pallets
b. Concrete blocks
c. Posts and chicken (or other type) wire
d. Posts and snow fence
I personally recommend a barrel style compost bin that can be turned like this one:
It’s going to be far more convenient. Turning compost is essential no matter how you look at it, and using a turning barrel is going to be much easier than turning your compost with a shovel in a stationary box. If you are uncomfortable building the frame, you could just use a barrel with a hole cut in to insert the material and roll it on the ground.
Pretty simple. But you can find easy to follow building plans on the internet.