How to Compost

By Ebony Porter, April 5, 2018, Green

Reducing your carbon footprint is something we are all thinking about. Beyond recycling, buying locally grown foods, and choosing reusable products, how else can we reduce our waste and limit what we add to the landfill?

Composting is one way, and the benefits of composting are endless.

Gardeners call compost black gold, simply because the waste of our daily lives, combined with nature’s waste and time, culminate into a nutrient-rich material that is incredible for the health of gardens, especially growing food.

You don’t need a large property to compost, either.

Here are the basics for how to start a compost bin, step by step. Before long your table scraps transform into something wonderfully magnificent!

How to Compost | Bounce Energy Blog

What can be composted?

  • Fruit and vegetable peels
  • Veggie cores
  • Carrot tops
  • Vegetables and fruits that have gone past their prime
  • Newspaper
  • Plain white xerox paper
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags and leaves
  • Nut shells and egg shells

What Not to Compost

  • Animal waste, meat, dairy, breads, pastas, baked goods, rice, coated papers, plastics, and fat, should not be added to your compost pile.
  • Even meals that are made primarily with vegetables but coated with oil shouldn’t be added. The reason for this is that they can attract unwanted pests, and introduce bad bacteria to your pile.
  • Citrus fruits, tomatoes and pickles are best not to be added to your compost pile either, as their acid can sometimes kill the good bacteria your pile is producing.

How to Compost | Bounce Energy Blog

How to Choose a Composting Container 

Start with using a container with a lid to be kept in your kitchen. Use a large tupperware container or an old ice cream container to hold onto your scraps. Under the sink is a good place for your compost to keep it out of sight.

A lid is essential, as a combination of old fruit juices and skins can cause an earthy odor that may be pleasant to some, but offensive to others.

You can also purchase a stainless steel container with a charcoal filter that washes out well, and the filter keeps the smells at bay. Because it’s not made from plastic, the scent of the compost won’t linger, and you can wash it out with hot water and soap every few weeks.

Where to Put Your Compost Bin

A compost bin needs to be within proximity of the kitchen, otherwise you won’t feel inspired to add to it. While you want to likely place it somewhere you’re not seeing it, don’t position it in a place that is too hidden, because the saying of out of sight out of mind will prevail.

Compost piles need sun and heat to break down, so keep that in mind. They also need water to engage in their breaking down process.

How to Compost | Bounce Energy Blog

How to Make Compost Piles

There are now compact compost barrels on the market that have little flaps for adding your scraps, and a handle to turn your barrel which sits on a stand with wheels. This is likely your best option if you are dealing with space constraints on your property.

If space isn’t an issue, then gather 7 old wooden crates and construct them so that you have 3 bins in total. You’ll take the first three crates and build an open top and front box, then add the other 2 crates to the side and back, and do the same with the last two. You can secure them together with some wire.

In these bins, you’ll want to have one totally dedicated to your carbon pile, which is all the grass clippings, dead leaves, green leaves, and twigs.

In the other two, you’ll have one pile going, and when it fills to the top, you an start on a second pile.

As your second pile grows, your first one will decompose and work its magic. This way, you have two piles always going at once.

How to Compost

Now down to the details! Think of a compost pile like a sandwich. We layer on the cheese, the vegetables, the condiments, and the meat. Although, compost isn’t even this complicated!

Start with a layer of your carbon, then add a layer of your table scraps. Repeat this pattern, layer, upon layer. Get your pile about 3-4 feet high before you leave it alone to work it’s alchemy.

Allow the sun to warm the compost pile, and if you’re in a drought, make sure to water it once every two weeks. The heat and the moisture combines to create that chemical reaction to break down the waste into usable garden matter.

Turn your pile over once a month until you begin to see the matter decompose. Keep watering it, and turning it every few weeks.

After about 3-4 months your table scraps should look like that “black gold,” perfect and ready to be added to your vegetable or flower garden, or used as mulch and nutrition around trees.

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About 

Born in Australia, Ebony has been in Texas long enough to consider herself a Texan-Aussie. Ebony has been writing for magazines, newspapers, and blogs, for more than 10 years. When she's not writing she's building quilts, growing her own food, or camping with her family somewhere far from the sounds of the city.

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