What is "it" and why is it so important?
Compost is organic matter that is decomposed in a process called "composting." Through this process, microbes in the soil break down the waste, creating healthy, nutrient-rich material that help plants grow. Not only is this good for soil health, but it’s also good for our health and the health of our planet by keeping compostable waste products like food out of landfills.
Every bag of garbage that ends up in a landfill has an effect on our environment.
When organic material is sent to the landfill in plastic bags, that material is never able to fully breakdown. Instead, it takes up space, creates a harmful gas known as methane (which is 26x more potent than carbon dioxide); and thus, contributes to climate change, as well as water & air pollution. And, sadly all of those precious nutrients are never returned back to the Earth.
These nutrients are good for building healthy soil which helps plants thrive. It also helps with water retention, reduces soil erosion, reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers, and keeps waste out of landfills.
So now that we understand what “composting” is and why it’s important, let’s talk about “How.” If you're new to composting, do not fear!
Here are 5 tips to get you started!
Before you get started, you'll want to plan your compost. First, choose what type of composter you will use (plastic stationary bins, tumbling or rotating bins, or worm composting bin). There are many different options, so do a little research and choose the best option for you.
Also, in your planning stages, decide on a good location for your compost site. Somewhere that is convenient to get to, ideally in a shaded area, near a water source and close to your garden.
-Make sure your compost is somewhere that is easily accessible to you, but NOT accessible to any uninvited guests (like bears! raccoons! skunks! Or any other outsiders you don't want in!)
-There's a lot of different options for composters and ways to make a DIY compost, I recommend Pinterest for finding the right fit for you.
-Tip: I like to keep a compost bowl on my kitchen counter (so I can easily toss my eggshells, coffee grounds, and scraps...). At the end of the day, I empty the bowl into my compost bin.
2. What TO (and NOT TO) Compost
Not everything gets composted! It's important to know what belongs & doesn't belong in your compost bin so you don't end up with a stinky, moldy, bin of scraps.
Here's a list of what you should & shouldn't compost:
What TO compost:
-Coffee Grounds & Filters
What NOT TO compost:
-Compostable Utensils/Compostable Containers
3. The Trick Is BALANCE!
You don't want a smelly pile of rotting food sitting in your yard... Compost (if done right) isn't smelly! The trick is to have a good ratio of green & brown, nitrogen: carbon. Ideally you want a 3:1 ratio of brown to green material in your compost. -3:1 green (nitrogen) : brown (carbon)
-Green material: (not necessarily green) is your organic waste, (fruit, vegetable, coffee grounds, grass trimmings, etc.)
-Brown material : (dry leaves, hay, straw, pine needles, saw dust, egg shells, shredded paper bags)
4. Water, Mix, Repeat
Just like your garden soil, you don’t want your compost to be too dry, or too wet. Having moisture in your compost will help the organic materials break down. Mix your compost every so often, this helps speed up the composting process and helps prevent your compost to get smelly.
-Keep your compost moist and mixed
5. Give It Time
Composting is a slow process, it takes time. Eventually you’ll want to stop adding green material and give your compost time to process. While the materials are breaking down, your compost pile will get warm, it may even put off a little steam. Don’t be alarmed, this is totally normal! Continue to mix and water until your compost.
-You’ll know when your compost is good and ready when it’s dark and there are no remnants of food or waste
That’s it! When you have your completed product, add it to your garden, house plants, or anywhere that may benefit from some healthy, nutrient-rich soil! If giving back to the environment is something you love, check out our CSA to learn how to get locally grown fruits + veggies delivered right to your door, along with all your farmer’s market favorites!