Gardening is a pastime that is gaining in popularity, especially with the recent pandemic threatening the food supply. One of the ways to help grow bigger and better fruits and vegetables is to give them nutrient-rich compost that you can easily make in your backyard.
What is compost?
Compost is decomposed organic matter. The resulting mixture is high in both carbon and nitrogen. When applied to garden beds and mixed in with the soil, the plants can easily access these nutrients which helps them produce prolifically.
Which is better: a compost bin or a compost pile?
You can place all your scraps on a compost pile or in a bin. While a bin is more contained, both options work fine as long as you have room to turn the composting material. There are even variations available for sale that turn with a handle, making the process of rotating your compost even easier.
What can you put in a compost bin?
You can put kitchen scraps, yard waste, and more in your compost bin. You do, however, need to make sure that the product is free from pesticides and other chemicals, especially if your end product will be used on edible plants. Your compost bin will also need two types of organic material to produce a quality finished product: greens and browns. This is not referring to the color of the materials, but rather the type of material.
Greens are items that are rich in nitrogen like grass clippings, eggshells, manure, coffee grounds, banana peels, and vegetable scraps. An easy way to remember what is considered part of the greens mix is that greens are moist.
Browns, on the other hand, are very dry. While they are very different than greens, they do provide a rich source of carbon for the microorganisms living in the compost pile. Browns are materials like fall leaves, twigs, cardboard, newspaper, straw, and dryer lint. It is important to note that if a newspaper gets wet, it is not considered a green; it is still a brown.
Is there a recommended ratio of greens to browns in a compost pile?
Professional gardeners and landscapers recommend a number of different ratios from 3:1 browns to greens all the way up to 30:1 browns to greens. The goal, however, is to have a nice mix of the two for proper decomposition, which can vary depending on the temperature and weather in the part of the country that you live in.
What should you never put in a compost bin?
You should not try to compost meat, bones, or dairy products. Not only will they smell bad as they rot in the compost bin, but they will attract rodents.