Composting is an ideal way to get rid of yard waste and fruit and veggie scraps, turning them into gold for your garden. Plus, this green-living measure helps save landfill space. Check with your local cooperative extension office for any special programs, as there are many in Northeast Ohio, possibly including free compost bins or building plans. Apartment dwellers or others without a space for traditional composters can get involved in community composting programs.
Set up your compost bin according to the instructions or building directions for the style of compost bin that works best for your needs and budget. Bins can be as simple as stakes and chicken wire in the corner of your garden to garbage cans with holes drilled into them and premade, specifically designed containers.
Place a layer of twigs and branches on the bottom of your compost bin. This will help with drainage, as proper decomposition occurs when the ingredients are damp but not soggy and air can circulate through the bottom.
Place a layer of green matter--fresh grass clippings, veggie and fruit scraps cut into fine pieces, disease-free plant matter--on top of the twigs.
Add brown matter--leaves, shredded newsprint, coffee grinds, eggshells, to name a few--to the compost heap. Add a scoop of soil.
Alternate layers of brown and green matter at least 3 inches thick, if possible, until the pile is 3 feet or higher.
Turn the pile weekly with a garden fork, working the outsides of the pile inward, where the heat of decomposition is generated, to allow the microbes to do their job. The center of the pile should reach temperatures of 120-140 degrees F.
Water lightly to keep the heap moist.
Let compost sit undisturbed through the cold Ohio months. You can continue to add ingredients chopped small to the mix, but those ingredients will not likely break down until spring, hampering the decomposition that has already occurred and making it that much longer before you have a finished product. You may wish to start a new compost bin to collect ingredients through the winter months, as you'll have a headstart on your next batch of compost.