), so you'll need to store them in a container so you can add them bit by bit. It helps to shred up the paper products before putting them in your pile. Sometimes two to one. These add nitrogen — a crucial element for microbial growth. Helpful tools include pitchforks, square-point shovels or machetes, and water hoses with a spray head. Even if you don’t grow food yet, you can use compost on flower and herb beds. Regular mixing or turning of the compost and some water will help maintain the compost. A helpful analogy is to think of tending to your compost like tending a fire. 3. (Of course, in the age of the coronavirus, make sure your community garden is open, and practice social distancing.). You should turn your compost about once a month. Typically the more compost you have, the faster it will go. There are many different ways to make a compost pile; we have provided the following for general reference. Or sometimes a sour smell. We'll teach you how to turn your food waste into beautiful earthy compost in five simple steps. You got this soggy, smelly pile," Diggs says, "So drainage makes a difference.". He says it "can just be an old milk carton. "Greens" are typically food scraps, like fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, or, if you have a yard, grass clippings. Remember to tend your pile and keep track of what you throw in. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. HOW TO COMPOST AT HOME . There's a solution for your home food waste that doesn't involve landfills: Composting! And for every component to break down, it might be a year.". Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. We'd love to hear from you. "If one hundred percent of it is water, then nothing is going on. Just as in a fire you need to structure the wood to get the air going, in compost you have to do a similar thing, adding spaces to give oxygen to those heroic microbes. Also, you can store the food scraps in a bag in your freezer or the back of the fridge. Worms Make Great Pets, And Other Reasons To Compost At Home, This Is A Good Time To Start A Garden. Benefits Of Composting At Home. When you're layering, you want the dry browns on the bottom with the wet greens on the top. If you don't compost, you should start right now! To build your own composter, use a 32-gallon trash barrel and drill several 5/16-inch holes using the cordless drill on the cover of the garbage can and up and down the sides for aeration. If you have a good life hack, leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823 or email us at LifeKit@npr.org. Those are compostable in industrial facilities, but they don't really work for home composting. 4. Once your compost pile is established, mix grass clippings and green waste into the pile and bury fruit and vegetable waste under 10 inches of compost material. That will make sure microorganisms can do their job. Also tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells, old flowers — even human hair! When you've got that fluffy, earthy compost, put it in your garden, or in a plant on your windowsill. At most you might get a slight pickle-esque smell when the bins are close to full. You can also buy a bin online or Digg says, "You could just create the pile naked!" Learning how to compost at home means helping the environment. Composting will also help you reduce the amount of trash you have, and therefore better for the environment! (Plus, keeping food out of landfills can help fight climate change.). The fastest compost pile to build is a simple mound — just throw everything to be composted into a heap and let it rot. When you make the first chop of the butt of that asparagus, boom, it could go right in there.". Nature will help direct you as to whether or not you need more of either at any given time. Enclosed compost tumblers or worm bins are perfect for small gardens or urban conditions. If you're one of the millions of Americans now stuck at home because of the coronavirus, it might feel like you're cooking more than you've ever cooked in your entire life. Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem. The brown materials provide carbon for your compost, the green materials provide nitrogen, and the water provides moisture to help break down the organic matter. If you want to break down your food scraps in your own apartment, there are still options. How fluffy it is!". Yard trimmings and kitchen scraps use up valuable space in landfills—space that is running out fast! Do not use farm animal manure compost. Optional: Cover top of compost with a tarp to keep it moist. Microorganisms are the true heroes of this process, they do the heavy lifting of decomposition. These materials make up 20 to 30 percent of all household wastes. Clear a patch of ground about 4′ by 4′. (That’s why so many bins are black—the color attracts the most sun. As for the ratio of "browns" to "greens," you often hear three or four parts of browns to one part greens. You can also ask your local grocery stores, restaurants or farmers markets to see if they have programs to take food scraps. Of course, it's totally fine if you want to give your food scraps to someone else to make compost. If you do have some outdoor space, your compost bin doesn't have to be complicated. We don't want you to give up so here are some more resources below. As for how much you turn it, you'll probably turn it less if you have the right ratio of greens to browns. Julia Simon for NPR Greens - This includes materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds. It doesn't matter if you're in a suburban home or in a tiny apartment. You can buy a compost bin (they’re not expensive), or make a simple one yourself. The microorganisms can't work. Want more Life Kit? Compost bins are enclosed on the sides and top, and open on the bottom so they sit directly on the ground. Helpful tools include pitchforks, square-point shovels or machetes, and water hoses with a spray head. Some municipalities will pick up your food scraps from your home. Regular mixing or turning of the compost and some water will help maintain the compost. Learn how to create and maintain an indoor worm composting bin. Meat products are likely to do that.". Compost breaks down faster in warm conditions, so try to keep your bin or heap insulated from the cold. An old trash bin, an old wooden chest — just work with what you have available. "If it's hot, you could get there in two months pretty easy, " Diggs says, "If it's cold made, you could be there in six months. The number of layers depends on your space and your amount of food scraps, but try to keep the layers to an inch or two. If you’re inspired to try your hand at home composting, Kelly Kuryk, Compost Winnipeg’s Project Manager, has some straightforward tips to help you get started. Use a shovel or pitchfork to regularly turn your compost and mix the layers. Your tip could appear in an upcoming episode. Life Kit shares tips on how to turn your food scraps into rich soil through composting. Choose a site where you want to put up your compost pile. In the world of composting you're inevitably gonna hear about "the greens and browns" — the two main ingredients for your mix. ", Another small space idea, Neal says, is fermenting your food scraps with a Japanese method called Bokashi. For compost, you need approximately an equal ratio of nitrogen to carbon to create a healthy mix. Encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material. Follow these five simple steps to compost at home like a pro. Browns - This includes materials such as dead leaves, branches, and twigs. He says you don't need a big container for "vermicomposting" — a 5 gallon box will do. Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin. A good thing to remember is that green materials are typically wet, and brown materials are typically dry. All composting requires three basic ingredients: Your compost pile should have an equal amount of browns to greens. Compost is often referred to as ‘black gold’ or ‘nature’s antidote’ because it is a very natural and organic solution to help even weakened soil regain its nutrient level. Here's How, resources for those looking to try worm composting or Bokashi, Jeffrey Neal from Loop Closing has compiled. Or you can go bigger. Basically you can just have a heap of compost — but don't put it up against a wall as it could stain it. Meat and dairy products, though, are asking for trouble. Water - Having the right amount of water, greens, and browns is important for compost development. If you don't have a backyard and still want a traditional composting experience you can take your food scraps to a compost pile that you share with neighbors or at a community garden. Do you attract animals to your pile? The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension has an excellent "compost trouble-shooting guide." Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint. Diggs says the browns are key because they allow water to flow, and air to flow, something called aeration. Decide how much containment you want. Of course composting takes patience — you might run into unexpected things. "I think keeping it simple," Diggs says. Enriches soil, helping retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests. Subscribe to our newsletter. There are so many benefits to composting at home: You’re making your soil healthier. Your compost should be ready in two to five weeks. It might make more sense for me to look into another option for my scraps, like a compost pick-up service. 1. An official website of the United States government. Make your own compost – once your bin is filled, make sure its lid is secure and leave it for at least five weeks to work its pickling magic. Cold composting is as simple as collecting yard waste or taking out the organic materials in your trash (such as fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds and filters, and eggshells) and then corralling them in a pile or bin. Homeowners can do these tasks: Mark out space in the garden for one or more trenches. "There are times when I made [my worm box] an ottoman so I could relax with my feet up on them! Like banana peels, or, if you're me, a frightening amount of pineapple tops. With great compost, you can reduce or eliminate your need for chemical fertilizers. Cooked food, oily things, buttery things and bones. Dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt) and eggs*, Pet wastes (e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter)*, Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides. Also tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells, old flowers — even human hair! Find a Drop-Off Center If you don’t have a nice-sized outdoor space where you can store your composting long-term, but still want to make a difference, find a composting facility near you that you can bring your scraps to. How To Compost At Home Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of composting and how great it is for the environment and your garden. 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 at a local hardware store, gardening supplies store, or make yourself. Fence it if you want. In this workshop, come learn the incredible art of composting where nature shows us how recycling is done! Diggs says he loves smelling finished compost,"You know, it just smells so ... Oh, gosh. Some do it more frequently, some less. If it smells bad, it probably means it's not decomposing — maybe your pile might be too wet or you might need to readjust your ratios of greens and browns. decomposed organic material that is produced when bacteria in soil break down garbage and biodegradable trash Bins retain some warmth and moisture and make better compost more quickly, but even an open heap (not enclosed in a bin) will compost eventually. Jeffrey Neal, the head of the Loop Closing composting business in Washington, D.C., is a big fan of worms. Woody, earthy, but also a sweet smell. Composting at home: Establishing your own basic compost pile. A way that people ensure they’ve reached the entire pile is to move it into a new bin. "Browns" are more carbon rich — think egg cartons, newspapers, dried leaves, and pine needles. Composting will result in rich, organic soil, which is often so much better than store bought soil amendments! Any of the compost bins on the market should produce compost as long as they exclude rain, retain some warmth, allow drainage and let in air. Neal says in the end "the nose knows" when your compost is ready. And maybe, as much as you're meal planning and reducing your food waste, there are certain things you're just not going to eat. This usually takes anywhere between two months to two years. "It doesn't have to be, you know, all the things that you find online that are really cute little ceramic containers," says Diggs. 3. There's a method for adding them to the pile (see step 4! You can use it like a piece of furniture. When the material at the bottom is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use. This compost bin is also a good choice if you don’t have counter space to spare in a small apartment or home. How to Compost at Home Indoors Vermicomposting, aka worm composting, is a great option for those with limited space and modest scraps (and arguably the easiest). If you have a green thumb and you like to give your plants their best, then you should start composting right now. There are several ways to compost at home, including methods well-suited for nearly every living situation. Then, all you have to do is add your browns and greens to the bin or pile. Compost is not only great for the planet, but it's also amazing for your plants and garden. Here's how. Lay down twigs or straw a few inches deep. You’re using natural compost instead of synthetic fertilizers, which carry the risk of overuse or misuse. 2. * Check with your local composting or recycling coordinator to see if these organics are accepted by your community curbside or drop-off composting program. Leonard Diggs is the director of operations at the Pie Ranch Farm in Pescadero, California. When you're composting, your kitchen scraps should be part of a deliberate layering process to speed up decomposition. That's an easy way to avoid odors and insects in your kitchen. Diggs says when you start out you might be turning the compost once every seven to 10 days. Otherwise, you can find a compost bin at most gardening stores. Other things that may attract pests? Make compost tea using composted yard waste (leaves, grass clippings, etc.) Using a shovel, dig a trench about 12”-18” deep. A properly managed compost bin will not attract pests or rodents and will not smell bad. Composting helps you in being able to create ‘humus’ for your outdoor area or yard which acts to improve the fertility of … Compost also makes for fantastic nutrient-rich food for plants! (Here's some more info on how to use worms and Bokashi.). You should also alternate layers of organic materials of different-sized particles. To keep things moving, you'll want to turn or rotate the pile, perhaps with a stick or spade. Carbon-Rich “Brown” Materials: Step #1: Plot out a composting site that measures at least 3 feet long by 3 feet wide. Gardeners call it “black gold,” because it is so rich in nutrients and adds so much value you when add it to your soil. It should be a 3:1 ratio of carbon items to nitrogen. Collect your scraps and leftovers: Get a bucket — even a used ice-cream pail or a kitchen bowl — and use that to collect your fruit and veggie scraps, leftover rice, bread or pasta. Select your food scraps. Ultimately you always want more browns than greens — again, gotta have the dry to sop up the wet. Another option is a compost bin, sometimes called a ‘compost digester’. Start the compost pile on bare earth, which allows worms and other good organisms to aerate it. Why You Should Compost At Home. hide caption. Before you start piling on, recognize that there are two types of composting: cold and hot. "All you need is a container you can seal and Bokashi mix, a colony of bacteria on grain." And it really is layering — browns then greens, browns then greens. Remember the fire analogy — you gotta make sure the air is flowing, that it's wet but not too soggy. Add organic matter to the compost bin. After determining the space for your compost pile, begin with a combination of carbon-rich “brown” materials and nitrogen-rich “green” materials. The good news? Or, you can enclose the pile with rocks, boards, concrete chunks or fencing. Compost tea is made by "steeping" compost in a bucket of water (5 parts water to 1 part compost by volume) for 1-3 days, then straining and applying the liquid to plants. Adding compost to soil can greatly improve the quality of the soil and keep your garden looking healthy. Compost is what you get when yard and garden debris, kitchen scraps and other organic materials have completely broken down into a rich, dark, crumbly material. He says you gotta ask yourself, "Do you attract rodents? Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. To gardeners, compost is considered "black gold" because of its many benefits in the garden. Or you can donate to your local community garden — just be sure to text ahead! Choose Your Bin: Your compost bin can be made from almost anything, but yard bags work quite well. Compost at Home in 7 Easy Steps. If you decide you want a faster, more efficient means of composting, try using a composting bin and introduce your own vermicompost system. Kidding!). Add brown and green materials as they are collected, making sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded. Mixing compost into your garden and landscape beds boosts the soil’s ability to hold on to both nutrients and water. After that, neutralise the acid by sprinkling with garden lime, … Start with fruits and veggies — the skin of a sweet potato, the top of your strawberry. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Cornell Waste Management Institute's Small Scale Composting, U.S. Department of Agriculture Backyard Composting Tip Sheet. The audio portion of this story was produced by Audrey Nguyen. Start with fruits and veggies — the skin of a sweet potato, the top of your strawberry. Because of their high moisture content, grass clippings also lower the efficiency of incineration systems. Compost is a truly excellent way to utilize your waste vegetable scraps, reduce landfill, and to increase the productivity of your vegetable garden. How long do you have to wait for decomposition? You can also put a little bit of browns on the very top to keep away flies and odors. "Bad compost smells, well, bad," he says, "It's like what a smelly trash can or dumpster smells like ... 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