Are you ready to start composting at your home? Great! Compositing is not only good for the environment, but it also produces great nutrient dense food for your garden. The good news is that composting isn’t terribly difficult. In fact, it’s pretty hard to ruin your compost. Essentially you just need to be mindful that you’re putting the right items in your compost bin, and you need to turn your compost periodically. Nevertheless, there are a few tips that can help you ensure that your efforts produce the best possible compost supply. Plus, with a little know-how, you can also avoid some common composting downfalls like unwanted pests.
One of the best things about composting is that it helps you limit the amount of trash waste your home produces. Food scraps left over from your cut up fruits and veggies are perfect composting material. However, you wouldn’t leave food out inside your home for fear of attracting pests. The same should go for your compost bin. Many first-time composters will simply throw their food scraps on the top of their compost pile and walk away. However, by doing this you are practically setting the table for any hungry critters in the area. Unless you want the rats and raccoons in your neighborhood to come to consider your compost bin as their personal pantry, there are a couple extra steps you should take.
When you add a new batch of food scraps, be sure to turn your compost well until they are completely covered. This will keep them from smelling and attracting unwanted visitors. Alternatively, you can collect your food scraps in an airtight container until you’re getting ready to do some yard work. After you’ve collected leaves and other spoils from your yard, you can throw the food scrapes underneath a layer of yard clippings to mask their scent.
It takes some time to get into the habit of saving your food and yard waste for your compost bin, but it’s important that you remain consistent. One of the keys to creating a successful compost is diversity. Your compost can’t be entirely made up of a few orange and potato peels that you happened to save. Instead, take special care to be consistent about saving everything down to the very last celery leaf. Once you’ve become more comfortable in your composting technique you can even start saving meat scrapes as well. Resist the urge to simply throw things away because it’s easier to do so. The more biodiversity in your compost, the more nutrient dense it will be.
One reason why many first-time composters give up on their pile is that they mistakenly start out doing more work than they need to. There’s a common belief that you need to chop up all of your compostable items into the smallest possible pieces. The idea is that by starting out with smaller pieces you will help the decomposition process along. There is some truth to this theory. Smaller pieces will break down faster, however, that’s not necessarily always a good thing. Compost that breaks down over a longer period of time tends to have more of the desired potting soil texture. On the other hand, compost that breaks down quickly can be soggy and difficult to manage. The good news is that this means less work for you. It’s okay to break down some large items into smaller pieces, but for most food scrapes, feel free to toss them in as is!
Another way to maintain the biodiversity in your compost pile is to include just as much green waste from your yard as food scraps. When you rake up your leaves, you may be tempted to simply toss your green waste piles in the trash can. However, these items are essential to your compost pile. In fact, master composters will often keep reserves of dried leaves just so they can create even layers of yard and food waste.
Grass, however, is another story. Some grass is fine in your compost bin, however, you want to add this in sparingly. Just like tiny bits of food waste, grass can block the necessary air flow within your bin, leading to a soggy compost pile. A better way to use grass clippings in your yard is to simply leave them be. Removing the collection bag from your lawn mower allows clippings to simply fall back to the ground where they will act as a natural fertilizer for your lawn.
There’s nothing more satisfying than finally getting to use your compost in your garden. But after months of carefully tending to your compost pile, be careful not to get carried away. One mistake inexperienced composters make is using too much compost throughout their yard. When mixing with other planting mediums, such as potting soil, your blend should really only consist of about one-quarter compost. You can also sprinkle a couple inches of compost in plant beds and around trees and shrubs. However, this should only be done about once per year.
For more information on quality topsoil to mix with your compost, come into Cal Blend Soils. We have all of the landscaping supplies you need to keep your yard looking its best.