If you want to get serious about living a more sustainable lifestyle and eliminating waste, composting is a great place to start. Composting turns your uneaten food, yard debris and fallen leaves into organic fertilizer for your organic garden – and who doesn’t want one of those?! Never started a compost pile before? Autumn is a great time to start. As the leaves begin to fall you will have an abundance of organic material as well as some rainfall to keep the pile moist. Still not convinced you’re ready to compost? We’ve created a step-by-step tutorial to get you going.
1. Clear an area of bare earth. Wherever you decide to put your compost pile you want it to start on bare ground so worm and other organisms can aerate your pile.
2. Start with drainage. Lay down twigs or straw so that excess moisture can find its way out.
3. Layer your compost. Alternate moist and dry materials. A moist layer would include leftover food and tea bags. A dry layer would include straw, leaves, sawdust and wood ashes.
4. Manure helps. While some people choose to use animal waste, it’s not advisable if you intend to use the compost for growing food. Green manure (clover, grass clippings, etc.) is a great nitrogen source, which helps speed along the decomposition process.
5. Moisture is key. You want to keep the pile moist, but not soaking. If your area receives occasional rain, that should be enough, but if rain is scarce, be sure to water occasionally.
6. Keep it covered. You need to retain the moisture and the heat of the compost pile. Cover it with a plastic covering, old carpet samples or wood. This also helps keep the pile from getting too wet.
7. Keep it moving. You’ll want to turn the pile every few weeks to help aerate it. Turning adds oxygen, which is essential to the process.
As Mary Poppins said “a job begun is half done.” Living sustainably doesn’t have to be difficult. Sometimes it just takes a little effort to start. Compost is environmentally friendly and the results yield rich soil for your garden. Do you compost? Tell us about your methods in the comments!