So you’ve made the decision to start composting. That’s super! But where do you start!? Composting is a very simple process that can immense benefits. By remembering these easy steps, you’ll be making the highest quality compost!
What you’re actually doing when you’re creating compost, is creating a habitat for beneficial microbes. These microbes are organisms that will break down plant matter and turn it into nutrients that are in a form that is available for plants to take up through their roots. If you create a happy home for these microbes, they will return the favor by producing super rich compost for you.
Step 1: Gather Organic Waste
The first step you need to do is gather the material you will use to begin your compost pile. You’ll want a pile that is at least 3ft x 3ft for the best results. The best material to use is about 50% green waste and 50% brown material. The green waste is the waste that is high in nitrogen, such as fresh grass cuttings or food scraps. Brown waste will add carbon to the soil and consists of things like cardboard, leaves, or paper. Some people suggest slightly different ratios, but this is approximately the ratio we use in our garden. If one sometimes outweighs the other, we don’t worry about it too much and just trust that the microbes will sort it out for themselves.
Step 2: Keep It Moist
The beneficial microbes we are seeking need water to thrive. This is why we hose down our compost pile once or twice a week depending on how dry it is (in winter we never hose it down). It’s important not too add too much water, as the compost should not be dripping wet. This will create swampy conditions that can get pretty nasty.
Step 3: Give It Air
We need to keep our compost pile aerated to make sure that oxygen is available for our microbe friends. This oxygen is a key ingredient for growing beneficial microbes. If the pile is too big, and oxygen cannot get to the inside of the pile, harmful bacterias may be able to grow. This is called “anaerobic.” These sorts of anaerobic conditions can potentially be very harmful to the health of our garden. The good news is that if the pile has become anaerobic, all you need to do is mix it up a bit with a pitchfork so that oxygen can introduced to the pile. We mix our pile once every week or two.
Step 4: Wait
The final ingredient to great compost is time. You simply need to be a little patient and let the microbes do their work. You may notice that in summer months the composting process happens much quicker than in winter months. This is because of the warmth that is in the atmosphere during that time. The time it takes to compost can be anywhere from 3 months to a year depending on how the pile is maintained.
If you can remember those four simple step, you’re already on your way to making your very own compost for your garden. Say goodbye to spending a fortune buying fertilizers from Home Depot! Once you start making your own compost, you’ll never want to stop.
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