How to Make Compost at Home – How does the saying go “Time to get your hands dirty”? Gardening can (is) a lot of fun and enjoyment but if you are planning on staying clean while doing it, me thinks you need to think this out again. And I hate to say it, but making compost can be one of the dirtiest jobs of all. So let’s get started.
What is Compost
When you combine your household wastes and mix it with items that are biodegradable, such as manure, add a little water, some air and nitrogen, you end up with something called compost.
In its finished state, it is a soil mixture that is dark and will crumble in your hand. It is used as fertilizer or mulch and will also condition your soil.
Out of the mulch come microorganisms that are essential to your plants health and well being.
What Goes into Compost
If you are new to composting, I think you may be surprised what can be added to your compost. I know I was when I first started.
Your compost materials are broken down into 2 categories and labelled as “Green’s” or “Brown’s”.
Greens are your nitrogen’s and moisture and will rot very quickly. Your Brown’s are your waste items that will take a lot longer to rot.
Remember above we mentioned that air was an important component to making compost, well the “Brown’s” will provide the pockets of air required. The Brown’s will also provide the needed carbon and fiber.
- Grass cuttings
- Vegetable peelings
- Tea bags
- Trimmings from hedges
- Potting soil that has grown old
- Coffee filters with coffee grounds
- Weeds that have not went to seed
- Plant stalks
- Cardboard boxes
- Newspapers (scrunched up)
- Toilet roll tubes
- Egg shells (crushed)
- Shredded paper
- Twigs and hedge clippings
What Does NOT go into compost
We have listed above what you can put in your compost; here is a list of what you should NOT put in your compost:
- Weeds that have went to seed
- Dead animals
- Pet feces
- Bread and grains
- Cooking oil
- Oily foods
- Diseased plants
Making Quality Compost
First off, it is not hard to make good compost; you just need to be careful that you get the right mix of your Green’s and Brown’s. So now we will get into how to make compost at home.
Start out by mixing your Brown’s and Green’s in a ratio of about 3:1 (3 – Brown, 1 – Green). “Now that sounds easing enough, but how do I make sure the ratio is 3:1”? Again, glad you asked. So, how about you get a pile of your Green’s put them in your compost area and then add 3 times equal parts of your Brown’s.
If you can make this pile about 3 feet high it should also give you a base of about 3 feet. The more you have of the mixture, the quicker and easier it will break down.
You may want to help the process along by adding an existing pile of compost to your newly started pile.
There is no worry about the mixture having an odor or smell to it if you have mixed it properly. Look for an earthy smell not a rotting smell.
So how do you know if you have the right combination? Good Question, I never thought you would ask. If your mixture looks a little too dry, then add more Green’s.
Also, there will be a need to add moisture to your compost when starting out. When we say moisture, we don’t mean that you want to soak the pile with water. As the pile moistens it should feel sponge. That tells you there is enough moisture.
By keeping the pile moist, you are quickening the breakdown of your Green’s and Brown’s into compost.
Then the opposite, if your mixture looks a little too wet then add more Brown’s. Pretty simple, eh?
At least once a week you will need to take a shovel or pitch fork and turn over your compost. This will loosen up the mixture allowing more air to flow. This will help in quickening the process.
How Long To Become Compost
This is a tricky question and there are many factors that come into play here. First thing that needs to be considered is the amount and mixture of of your Brown’s and Green’s. Then you need to consider the weather and the conditions of your surroundings. The average time for the mixture to be ready as compost is probably between 6 and 9 months. By this time the original ingredients shouldn’t be recognized, you will not have compost.
As the title of the movie starring James Caan would suggest, try to hide your compost in plain sight; as close to your garden as possible but not where it becomes a distraction. What has not been mentioned yet in this article is that your compost should be placed in some sort of bin, or closed in area like a fenced off area. This will be covered in another article.
As you can see, making compost is quite easy and requires not too much of your time, but it will cause you to get your hands dirty 🙂 We have tried to show you how to make compost at home, so now it’s your turn. Go get started!!
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