Everything You Need To Know About Composting - Home & Texture
Outdoors Composting

This Is Everything You Need to Know About Composting

Learn how to turn your trash into treasure.

July 10, 2024 at 7:56 AM PST
Outdoors Composting

This Is Everything You Need to Know About Composting

Learn how to turn your trash into treasure.

July 10, 2024 at 7:56 AM PST

Sustainability is a big deal in today’s world. A growing number of people are choosing to reduce their environmental footprint, from saving water to buying eco-friendly products. Another cool way people are getting into it is composting.

Composting is an easy, eco-friendly way to enrich your soil and contribute to the environment at the same time. But unfortunately, aside from hearing about it on social media, many people still don’t know how it works.

To clear things up, here’s everything you need to know about composting.

What is composting?

Basically, composting is about turning organic matter, like leaves and food scraps, into a nutrient-rich soil booster — a.k.a. compost.

This natural recycling process breaks down organic material, leaving behind waste residue. Bacteria, fungi, and other organisms eat that waste, then turn it into compost that you can add to your soil to create a healthy environment for plants to grow in.

Why should you compost?

To many people, composting just sounds like a lot of work. Why go through the effort of creating your own soil? Here are a few reasons.

You can reduce waste.

According to Recycle Track Systems, the U.S. wastes 120 billion pounds of food each year. But fortunately, a big advantage of composting is that it reduces waste. This is good because less waste means less methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is toxic to humans and the environment.

You can save money.

By making your own compost, you save money on buying fertilizer and soil conditioner from the store.

You can create a nutrient-rich soil.

Composting not only adds nutrients, but it helps soil better retain moisture, making your plants healthier and more resilient.

A person digging around in soil
Photo credit: Jonathan Kemper 

How To Get Started

Now that you get the gist of what composting is, you’re ready to start your own journey. But first, here’s what you’ll need to begin:

A compost bin or pile

You can buy a compost bin at your local garden center, or make a pile on the ground somewhere in your yard.

Water and air

Your compost pile needs moisture and oxygen to help the decomposition process. Water your pile regularly and turn it frequently to add air.

A good mix of “greens” and “browns”

Healthy compost needs a balance of nitrogen-rich “greens” and carbon-rich “browns.”

Greens include things like:

  • Fruit and veggie scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Fresh lawn clippings

Browns include things like:

  • Dead leaves
  • Branches
  • Paper
Food scraps left on a countertop
Photo credit: simon peel 

For a list that’s a little more in-depth, here’s a quick guide:

Can Compost

  • Fruit and veggie scraps
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags
  • Eggshells
  • Grass clippings
  • Dead leaves
  • Paper (non-glossy)
  • Cardboard
  • Hair and fur

Can’t Compost

  • Meat and dairy products
  • Fats and oils
  • Pet waste
  • Diseased plants
  • Glossy paper
  • Synthetic materials

Maintaining Your Compost

You don’t need to do much to keep your compost healthy and active. Here’s how to give your compost some TLC:

Turn the pile.

You’ll need to turn the compost pile with a shovel or other gardening tool about twice per month. This helps keep the soil oxygenated so that the organic matter can break down more quickly.

Check your moisture levels.

Like regular soil, compost needs to be moist to work properly. The key is to get it to the moisture level of a wrung-out sponge, so if it’s too dry, add water. Or if it’s too wet, add more browns.

Watch the temperature.

A good compost pile heats up as the materials break down. If your pile isn’t heating up, try adding more greens and turning it more often.

Harvesting Your Compost

After you’ve had your compost for several months, you can check to see if it’s ready to use. You can tell that it’s ready when it’s dark, crumbly, and smells kind of earthy.

Before using your compost, be sure to sift out any large, undecomposed pieces. Then, you can do whatever you want with it, from mixing it into your garden bed to making a compost tea.



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