Composting 101: It’s a dirty job, but the environment (and your yard) will thank you!

At the Home Energy Store, we’re all about maintaining a sustainable outdoor space. One of the best ways to do that is through composting.

So what exactly is composting?COMPOST1

Composting decreases the amount of waste sent to landfills and creates a natural fertilizer and conditioner. It is a simple way to add nutrient-rich humus which fuels plant growth and restores vitality to depleted soil. It’s also free, easy to make and good for the environment.

 

 

What are the benefigreen-compost_0ts of composting?

  1. It is a soil conditioner. By creating rich humus for your lawn and garden, you add nutrients to your plants and helps retain moisture in the soil.
  2. It recycles kitchen and yard waste. Composting can divert as much as 30% of household waste away from the garbage can.
  3. It introduces beneficial organisms to the soil. Microscopic organisms in compost help aerate the soil, break down organic material for plant use and ward off plant disease.
  4. It is good for the environment. Composting is a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers.
  5. It reduces landfill waste. One-third of landfill waste is made up of compostable materials.

Ready to get started?

  1. Start your compost pile on bare earth. This allows worms and other beneficial organisms to aerate the compost and be transported to your garden beds.
  2. Lay twigs or straw first, a few inches deep. This aids drainage and helps aerate the pile.compost2
  3. Add compost materials in layers, alternating moist and dry. Moist ingredients are food scraps, tea bags, seaweed, etc. Dry materials are straw, leaves, sawdust pellets and wood ashes. If you have wood ashes, sprinkle in thin layers, or they will clump together and be slow to break down.
  4. Add manure, green manure (clover, buckwheat, wheatgrass and grass clippings) or any nitrogen source. This activates the compost pile and speeds the process along.
  5. Keep compost moist. Water occasionally, or let rain do the job.
  6. Cover with anything you have – wood, plastic sheeting, carpet scraps. Covering helps retain moisture and heat, two essentials for compost. Covering also prevents the compost from being over-watered by rain. The compost should be moist, but not soaked and sodden.
  7. Turn. Every few weeks give the pile a quick turn with a pitchfork or shovel. This aerates the pile. Oxygen is required for the process to work, and turning “adds” oxygen. You can skip this step if you have a ready supply of coarse material, like straw.
  8. Once your compost pile is established, add new materials by mixing them in, rather than by adding them in layers. Mixing, or turning, the compost pile is key to aerating the composting materials and speeding the process to completion.
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