Composting is a way to recycle your food and yard waste into a nutrient-laden material that helps feed your vegetables and flowers. Not only is it free to compost, but it's also great for the environment because you are reducing landfill waste. Compost is also ideal for retaining moisture within the soil while defending against plant disease.
The first item you'll need for composting is the compost bin. Compost bins aerate and decompose your food and garden waste into a nutrient-laden soil that can be used to fertilize your garden. There are a wide range of sizes and molds to fit your outdoor space. There are small plastic compost bins to fit in small apartment balconies, as well as large bins to accommodate a large family. You can also create your own compost bin out of wood as an affordable and budget-friendly alternative.
Old food scraps, fresh prunings, coffee grounds, tea bags and even egg shells can be tossed into the bin to be turned compost. Use kitchen scraps like vegetables and fruits to compost. Add household items like cotton balls and newspaper shreds. Mixing together different types of material will help to create a well-balanced bin. Avoid composting meat and bones, as they attract rodents to the space and produce rancid smells. Pet waste, including litter, should not be tossed into the bin. Also, remember anything that is not biodegradable, like plastic, should not be part of the collection.
Now that you have filled your bin, begin turning the compost every six months to help the scraps degrade and keep everything damp and properly aerated. In the hot summer months, add water to help the dry bin remain damp and keep things moving along in the degrading process. Over the next few months, the soil will will begin to break down into compost. Other scraps may take a little longer so be patient and let the natural process take place.
After the vegetables and material have decomposed, the compost is crumbly and has a slight earthy smell. The dark rich soil is slightly damp and you might see an earthworm or two within the bin, a very good sign. Begin spreading the highly rich soil around your garden and landscape. Anywhere you have plants, indoors and out, use the compost to help them remain healthy and hardy.