Chances are you’ve heard of “composting.” It’s the environmentally friendly way to turn your food and yard waste into a miracle elixir for your garden and help to reduce waste removal costs in your community! But how does someone get started with composting? Is it easy to maintain? Keep reading for tips on how to create and manage your own home composting system.
Compost is a soil-like material that is rich in carbon and is created from the breakdown of organic materials. This includes nut shells, banana peels, tea bags and newspaper, to name a few. Though it is used to replenish the nutrients in your soil, compost is different from a fertilizer because it has a different chemical makeup, which contains smaller amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium!
Home composters can start by keeping their materials in a “heap” outside, or by using a bin, which is generally a more manageable way to handle your compost. There are various different methods of composting, including both hot and cold, which each provide their own benefits as they break down outside. If you’d rather start your composting journey indoors, consider trying vermicomposting, a system that uses small worms to break down food, or bokashi, a system that uses fermentation. Both of these systems take up minimal room, and you can purchase starter kits online.
Starting a compost pile in your yard is simpler than you think, but you have to be conscientious in how you maintain it. Start by making a pile of leaves and small sticks on some bare earth about 2 inches deep. Alternating between moist and dry products, continue to add onto your pile any natural product high in nitrogen. While you alternate, be sure to keep your pile moist to ensure that your compost stays a useful garden tool!
If you’re wondering what you can include in your compost, remember that generally things from the earth can go back into the earth. This means egg shells, apple cores and other organic items are fine to compost. However, there are some natural products that cannot be thrown into your home compost bin, including meats, dairy products and most cooking sauces. This is mainly due to the fact that not only will they smell, but these products will attract animals to your yard as well. You’ll also want to avoid any plastics that are labeled as compostable, as these items are suited best for professional composting sites, and will not break down appropriately in your home set up.
Composting is a spectacular way to keep your garden happy for years to come, and more food on your plate! If you’re interested in starting your own composting routine, visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website: https://dnr.wi.gov/files/PDF/pubs/wa/wa182.pdf