is nothing new, but it has become more popular in the
last few years as people strive to be better citizens of
Haug, a master composter with Recycle Smart, says many
people want to compost but may need help getting
started. Here are some of her tips:
planning a traditional compost pile or stack, gather
your materials. Youíll need 50 percent carbons, called
browns, and 50 nitrogen, called greens.
material consists of things such as shredded newspaper
and dried leaves. Greens include grass and garden
clippings, fruit and vegetable peels from the kitchen,
coffee grinds and tea leaves.
the material, starting with either the greens or the
browns, alternating the layers and watering each layer
lightly before adding the next. This will help you judge
how much of each component you are adding. You can stir
add dairy products, meat, fish, bones or oily foods and
donít put in large pieces of wood, diseased plants or
adding materials to the pile until the temperature
inside the pile rises. You can use a thermometer, but
Haug says youíll be able to tell when the pile gets
the pile is about 100 degrees, you can start turning it;
once a week should be plenty. When it gets even hotter,
130 degrees and higher, stop adding fuel and turn the
pile every other day for two weeks.
four weeks, youíll have completed compost, which
should be pulled out of the bin and stored for a couple
of weeks to cure.
you donít want to start a composting bin, you can gain
some of the same advantages of composting by mulching.
is a way to protect the ground and feed the soil. In
essence you are practicing composting, but the results
ó the breakdown of organic material into a nutrient
rich material ó will take place much more slowly.
easy way to compost in this manner is to use grass
clippings as a mulch. You can leave the grass clippings
in place on a mowed lawn, instead of collecting them in
a bag. The clippings are full of nitrogen and will feed
the lawn, helping you reduce the amount of fertilizer
also can scatter grass clippings and leaves on planted
areas. Add grass slowly, about 1 inch at a time,
gradually accumulating about 3 inches. Leaves should be
chopped ó Haug recommends running them through a leaf
blower in reverse, or piling them on the driveway and
running the lawn mower over them. Cutting them into
smaller bits will prevent them from creating a blanket
over the soil, which will prohibit water from reaching
things are considered mulch, even rocks and gravel. The
rocks wonít provide nutrients to the soil, but they
will help protect it.
a worm bin is another way of composting kitchen waste.
The worms eat it and then produce castings that are
gardenerís gold when it comes to rich nutrients for
traditional bin composters, you can buy a worm bin or
make your own. For instructions, search the web; for
commercial ones, ask your sanitation district if it has
special offers on worm bins.
need about a pound of compost worms ó red wigglers.
You can buy them online or ask your worm composting
friends to share some of them. They reproduce quickly.
prepare the worm bed by tearing newspapers into long,
inch wide strips. Then use your hands to fluff the
paper. You should end up with about three times as much
bedding, by volume. You donít want any paper sticking
youíve fluffed, sprinkle the paper with water and
continue to fluff it up, moistening the paper but not
soaking it. Worms donít like their bed too wet.
about 3 inches of bedding in the bin and add your worms.
Then give them food.
only kitchen scraps ó mostly fruit and vegetables, no
meat or dairy. Donít feed them eggs, although crushed
egg shells are OK. Worms prefer sweet food, including
melons and other fruits. Chop it into small pieces and
then cover the food and worms with more damp newspaper.
you can smell the worm bin, something has gone wrong. It
may be too wet, or you may have added food the worms wonít
or canít eat.
two to three months, you should be able to harvest the
castings. Give yourself plenty of time for the task as
it can be consuming.
castings need another month or so to cure, and they can
keep for a long time. Use them indoors and out by
diluting them in water. A little can go a long way.