Composting is a great way to reduce waste and enhance the soil in your garden and yard! Check out this handy graphic on backyard composting to get started…
Looking for a new backyard project now that you’re spending more time at home? Composting is a simple and eco-friendly activity that is perfect for all ages. Plus, it helps you create healthy soil and keeps your garden thriving.
There are many ways to compost and you can customize your compost pile or bin to meet your space needs, whether you set it up in your backyard or kitchen!
Read on to learn the basics of composting, as well as what materials you can (and can’t) add to your bin.
Composting is the decomposition process of turning organic waste into healthy food for your soil. While this decomposition occurs naturally in nature, composting speeds it up so you can harness the nutrients from your waste in just a few months.
Once you’ve successfully broken down organic waste into compost, you can use this nutrient-rich topsoil in your yard or garden. Because the composting process recycles organic waste, it’s also a great alternative to landfill trash. In fact, composting reverses the effects of harmful greenhouse gases by sequestering carbon in the soil and helping to grow vegetation that releases more oxygen into the air!
Compost this, not that
Nearly 25% of all the solid waste from U.S. households comes from the kitchen. But all of your kitchen scraps don’t need to end up in the trash can. Instead, you can reuse some of that waste in your compost.
But compost is picky about what it breaks down, so not all of the items found in your kitchen should be added to your compost pile. In fact, a lot of them shouldn’t be.
Read on to learn more about what types of organic waste you can compost, and what waste should go to the trash can instead. You can also print this free printable to hang in your kitchen so you never add the wrong materials to your compost.
Compost is made of three ingredients: browns (carbon-rich materials), greens (nitrogen-rich materials), and moisture (H20). Of these materials, your compost will have mostly browns. The browns to green ratio should be 3:1.
Here’s a list of common brown and green ingredients:
You can find brown materials in both your kitchen and yard. These carbon-rich ingredients are essential for a thriving compost pile. Here are some popular browns to use:
- Dead leaves
- Shredded newspaper
Do you ever feel guilty tossing vegetable stems when you’re preparing dinner? Reuse them for compost instead! Most of your nitrogen-rich materials will be found in the kitchen, and here are some of the most common “greens:”
- Coffee grounds/filters
- Loose tea/tea bags
- Old flowers
Materials to Avoid:
Some materials are extremely harmful for your compost. These materials can delay decomposition, or worse, poison your garden. Avoid these common yard and kitchen scraps when composting:
- Diseased plants or weeds
- Meat (while meat does decompose, it may cause objectionable odors in the process and could attract pests)
- Citrus fruit peels (these are okay in small amounts, but should not be added in large quantities)
- Cooking oils
- Coal or charcoal ash
Now that you’ve learned the benefits of composting and what materials you can (and can’t) use, check out this visual from The Zebra to learn step-by-step how to create a compost bin in your backyard!
If you can’t set up your compost outside, there are also indoor composting alternatives!