10 Tips for Becoming a Compost Guru
Growing up in the Bay Area meant learning about recycling and composting from a very early age. In elementary school, we had a blue bin for recycling, a green bin for composting, and a black bin for trash outside every classroom. My kindergarten teacher explained and demonstrated the importance of composting by allowing us to help her tend a garden, where our composted food was utilized as fertilizer.
Are you interested in composting but not sure where to start? No problem! In this blog, you’ll learn about 10 tips to help you become a compost guru.
1. What can you actually compost?
Most foods can be composted. You can compost any of the following: between cardboard (uncoated), coffee grounds and filters, eggshells, fireplace ashes (natural wood only), fruits and vegetables, grass clippings, hair and fur, hay and straw, houseplants, leaves, shredded newspapers, nutshells, paper (uncoated), sawdust, tea bags, wood chips, and yard trimmings. Sometimes, recyclable materials like cardboard can’t get recycled anymore when they have oil stains (pizza boxes, we’re looking at you). But, this is still perfect for your compost pile!
2. What should you not compost?
Not all food should be composted. Dairy products and eggs can create odor problems and can potentially attract rodents and other pests. Fats, grease, lard, and oil are also guilty of the same issues. Meat, fish bones, and scraps may also carry pathogens, which can cause diseases.
3. Adding red worms
Red wigglers can be a great addition to your compost pile. They swallow lots of organic material, digest it, and produce worm castings, which are rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and many micronutrients.
4. Just add water
Sometimes adding water to your compost pile is necessary to keep your compost pile moist. The living organisms that break down the organic material need moisture to survive, so if your compost pile becomes too dry, they may perish. On that note, if you add more “green” material to your compost, you will not have to add as much water.
5. Is there a certain order for compost piles?
No, there is no particular order for how you should layer your compost pile. You could organize it in thin layers of alternating between greens and browns, or you could just mix it all together. The composting will not happen any faster or slower, so just do whichever you are more comfortable with.
6. Faster composting?
If you wish to compost faster, you can utilize a compost turner every two weeks. Compost turners add oxygen and bring microbes into contact with newly added material. Introducing more oxygen accelerates decomposition and keeps your compost pile fresh and less smelly. Additionally, chopping yard waste or other organic material into smaller pieces will accelerate the decomposition process.
7. Compost Tea
Compost can also be used to make compost tea, which is a nutrient-rich liquid that can be used to water anything that grows. This liquid is more fertile than water and can enable your plant to grow faster.
8. Monitor the temperature of your compost pile
Be sure to monitor the temperature of your compost pile. Compost decomposes fastest at 120-160 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a compost thermometer to keep track of your pile’s temperature.
9. How do I know when my compost pile is “done”?
Finished compost is usually less than half of the volume of the organic material you originally started with. Even though the volume will look considerably smaller, the material will be much more dense.
10. What do I do with my finished compost?
Finished compost can be used to fertilize soil! This finished compost will add nutrients to your garden and help your garden flourish. You can never add too much compost; any amount of compost will benefit your soil.
Composting is a simple action you can take that will benefit you, your household, and the planet. If you’re new to the art, start composting in small increments. Create a small pile and see how the fertile, finished compost helps your garden. Once you see how beneficial compost is, I’m sure you will become just as determined to compost as I am!