Composting is the procedure of decomposing organic matter such as leaves, twigs and stems, cardboard and leftover food scrap to create compost: a dark and crumbly mixture that enriches the quality of garden and container soil. This natural way of recycling waste to create soil conditioner and fertilizer is something every homeowner can do. Not only is this a responsible way of putting scrap to better use, but it also greatly reduces household waste that takes up unnecessary space in landfills. With the right tools, you can start your own home compost.
How to Start a Home Compost
Decide whether you want to start your home compost in a bin or heap. A bin provides the advantage of containing the waste, thus reducing any unpleasant odor and allowing you to mix the contents by simply rolling it across your yard.
A heap or pile is the cheapest method of composting. It should be a 3- to 5-foot cubic square, covered with a tarp to prevent scavengers like rodents and stray animals from spreading the scrap all over the yard.
Select a dry and shady place in your garden or backyard where you want to make your compost. Make sure the spot is near a water source because the contents have to be evenly moist at all times, and also near your kitchen so you can walk a short distance to fill it with waste, especially during inclement weather.
Purchase a 25- to 55-gallon plastic bin with a tight-fitting lid if you want to compost using a bin. Drill one-half-inch holes throughout the body, lid and base of the bin, spaced 4 to 6 inches apart, to allow air to enter. For a heap, demarcate a 3- to 5-foot square in your yard with bricks.
Fill the bin or spread alternating layers of "green" and "brown" waste in your compost pile or heap. Greens provide nitrogen and include grass and leaf clippings, manure and leftover food scrap, while browns provide carbon and include shredded paper bags, cardboard, twigs, coffee filters and sawdust. Make sure each layer is 4 to 6 inches thick.
Add water to the bin or pile to aerate the contents. Do not douse it with water but add enough to moisten it. Allowing the contents to dry at any time will slow down decomposition.
Turn your compost pile frequently with a pitchfork, or lay the bin flat and roll it across your yard so the contents mix thoroughly. This will help aerate the contents and provide fungus and bacteria in the waste the oxygen they need. Your compost will be ready for use after six months to two years.