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