Not all homemade compost are the same – and it definitely takes more than just putting together all your fruit and vegetable leftovers in a pile of dirt to make compost. Compost-making is a science and an art in itself – and it’s something that every organic gardener would want to learn.
We have listed the 5 ways to create and maintain your own organic compost. Trust us – this is easier than you imagined and clearly more satisfying than running to your compost seller. Check out the steps and tips below.
- Have enough of the ‘green’ and ‘brown’ stuff. The main ingredients of a successful compost are soil, water, air, and organic materials that are rich in nitrogen and carbon. The green stuff, as gardeners would call it, are the nitrogen-rich materials like kitchen waste (plant-based only) and grass clippings, as well as animal manure from cows, chickens, and other farm animals (note: cat and dog excrements are not good for compost). Meanwhile,, the ‘brown’ stuff are carbon-rich material like dried leaves and dead flowers. Waste newspaper can also be included in your brown materials. The combination of both nitrogen-rich and carbon-rich material placed in damp soil and periodically aerated promotes and speeds up the decomposition process that makes compost healthy and fertile. A good ratio is a third of nitrogen material for two-thirds of brown, carbon-rich material.
- You don’t have to buy a composting container to start a compost…But that does keep things neat and organized. If you don’t have the right container, or simply don’t want to spend on it, that’s fine! All you need is a 3 feet by 3 feet area to put your composting materials in. Contained and closed composts are best for hot composts but cool, open-air composts work just as fine as closed ones.
- Don’t let the water get soggy. The last thing you want is to make your compost soggy. Over-watered compost destabilizes the temperature necessary to create your own black gold. Keep your compost damp by using a spray bottle (for smaller areas) or watering cans (for larger areas) and make sure the mix your compost around every two or three weeks. This makes sure that all the good organic nutrients that help speed up the composting process gets distributed well enough. If you’re keeping your compost in open water, make sure to cover it with the dry stuff of your compost material like layers of dried leaves and twigs to protect your compost from getting soaked in the rain.
- Alternate layers between your dry and moist/wet compost material. Layering composting materials is important – but not as important as layering them properly. Start with a layer of dry materials like twigs and straws. This aids in proper drainage, making sure that the bottom layer is not a pile of sogginess. Then alternately layer moist materials (kitchen scraps like fruit peelings and vegetable cuttings as well as grass clippings) and then your manure.
- Use your leftover compost material to start your new layer. Because of how the compost is positioned, some of it will be ready before other parts. When you use your compost, leave all the ‘leftover’ material to help jumpstart your new layer while you use the good stuff in your garden already.
Composting is a gift that keeps on giving – and there is nothing to waste. Don’t be too intimidated and stop missing out on the joys and rewards of making your own compost. Start small with a 3 feet by 3 feet pile today!