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