Home Composting

Many lawn and landscaping products can be reused or recycled to prevent waste. Composting is one recycling method that turns organic yard waste into a natural soil additive rich in nutrients. Finished com-post can improve soil texture, increase the soil’s ability to absorb air and water, suppress weed growth, and decrease erosion. In addition, making and using your own compost can save you money and reduce pollution by reducing the need for you to buy and use commercial soil additives.

You can create a compost pile in your backyard or indoors, depending on your available space. To compost in your backyard, choose a level, 3-by-5-foot square spot in an area of your yard near a water source, but away from direct sunlight and child play areas. Clear the spot of sod and grass and set up a compost bin.

You can buy a bin from a commercial retailer or build your own out of wood scraps, chicken wire, or concrete blocks. Remember to leave enough space in your bin for air to circulate, and make sure one side is removable for easy tending.

You will need to turn your compost pile every few weeks with a pitchfork to distribute air and moisture. Make sure you also sprinkle water on your pile in dry weather. In most climates, you will have finished compost in 3 to 6 months, when the waste becomes a dark, crumbly material that is uniform in texture. You can then spread your compost in garden beds, under shrubs, or use it as potting soil.

If you do not have space for an outdoor compost pile, you can compost materials indoors using a special type of bin, which you can buy or make yourself. To make your own indoor bin, drill 1/2-inch diameter holes in the bottom and sides of a plastic garbage can. Place a brick in the bottom of a larger garbage can, surround the brick with a layer of wood chips or soil, and place the smaller can inside on top of the brick. Wrap insulation around the outer can to keep the compost warm and cover the cans with a lid. Your compost should be ready in 2 to 5 weeks. Remember to tend your pile and keep track of what you throw in. A properly managed compost bin will not attract pests or rodents and will not smell bad.

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