Composting

A RECIPE FOR A HEALTHIER YARD

Composting is an easy way to create organic fertilizer for your lawn and garden. A backyard compost pile is made by mixing grass clippings and kitchen waste (green, high-nitrogen material) with dry leaves (brown, high-carbon material), soil and water. Mix periodically to add air. Chopping or shredding the materials with a hatchet, mower, or shredder speeds the composting process.

This recipe sets up an ideal environment for nature’s decomposers to work. Not only does composting conserve natural resources and reduce solid waste by recycling otherwise wasted nutrients, but it also yields faster-growing, sturdy and disease-resistant plants and encourages beneficial organisms to stay in the soil, further benefiting soil and plant life.

1. Layer one part green materials with two parts brown materials:

Green Materials with High-Nitrogen Content

•    Grass, weeds and non-woody garden prunings
•    Spent flowers, bouquets
•    Farm animal manure (cow, horse, chicken, sheep)
•    Fruit & vegetable kitchen and garden scraps
•    Sprinkling of blood meal or cottonseed meal
•    Coffee grounds

Brown Materials with High-Carbon Content

•   Dry leaves
•   Dead brown plants or potted plants
•   Straw, sawdust
•   Pine needles
•   Finely-chopped woody brush, corncobs

Every year, each American creates 360 pounds of food and yard waste. 11% of total refuse is food waste, and 9% is compostable.

2. Sprinkle a half inch of compost every few layers.

Compost will help inoculate the soil with the microorganisms necessary for the decomposition process.

3. Add water to keep the pile as damp as a wrung-out sponge.

 

4. Mix or turn periodically with a garden fork.

Microorganisms need oxygen and small particle size. The more often you turn the pile, the quicker it breaks down.

Notes: Do not add meat, dairy products, diseased or invasive plant material, or dog and cat wastes to a backyard compost pile. Rabbit and bird waste is fine.

A compost pile composed of predominantly green materials (i.e., grass) may become soggy and release unpleasant odors. If this happens, break the heap apart and rebuild it, adding layers of brown materials and turn more often to dry out the pile.

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