Composting 101: Getting Started

Posted by Taylor McCarten on

If you are just starting to compost, or want to get some basic information to minimize your carbon footprint this is the article for you. 

The first thing you will need to do before you start is find an area in your backyard where you can designate at least one square yard of space. The amount of space you have available will dictate which composting method you will choose. Be aware some people find a compost pile to be an eyesore so common areas are usually behind a shed, on the side of the house, etc. It will also help with the smell if it is an area with a lot of aeration. 

Now that you know how much space you have, let’s decide which composting method will be best for you. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money a DIY compost pile is a common choice that requires minimal maintenance. Compost tumblers are a pricier option, but work faster and offer one of the least laborious composting solutions. Trench composting involves digging a hole, filling it with your compost and covering it up. This is for you lazy gardeners who don't want to aerate your compost every other day. 

In order to make sure you compost produces nutrient-rich soil you should consider four elements of your compost; air, water, temperature and food. To keep it as simple as possible, bacteria and fungi need oxygen to metabolize and do their job. Water is important as animals and microbes prefer doing their decomposing in damp conditions. If you are on top of your air and water levels your compost will naturally produce heat which kills weeds, bacteria and viruses. Depending on what's in your kitchen scraps you may already be providing you compost with an adequate amount of food so the microbes can do their job. If you aren’t I recommend looking into supplements to add to your compost. 

Lastly, be aware of your green to brown ratio. Ideally, experts recommend having a 3:1 brown to green ratio so your compost contains 24 parts carbon for every 1 part nitrogen. If the science doesn’t appeal to you, being conscious of the ratio should be enough to make sure your compost thrives. 

Hopefully, now you have an understanding of the basics so you can produce nutrient-rich soil for your garden. 

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