Why Creating Your Own Compost Might Be Easier Than You Think
We've got step-by-step instructions, tips and tricks to get you the best looking soil around (seriously!)
You made it! Now that you're here, don't run yet! Gone are the days when composting meant throwing a heap of your leftovers in the dirt and banking on magic to make some soil (not that you still can't). BUT, we've got everything you need to know to jump on the composting train, reduce your carbon footprint and start saving money on fertilizer without all the headache and mess.
Why make your own compost, you ask?
Creating your own compost is a sure proof way to help fight climate change. Don't believe us? We'll explain. As you know, producing food takes a lot of energy. You've probably heard that some foods (like meat, dairy and eggs) take more energy than others (like plant-based foods) to produce (3). What you eat, how often you drive, and your other daily activities associated with energy use determine what is known as your carbon footprint (a.k.a. how much you are contributing to climate change) (3). Now, carpooling and eating less meat is a great way to start lowering your carbon footprint, but another awesome way is to consider how you deal with trash (4). Here's where composting comes into play. Think about all the scraps of food and yard waste that you toss into the trash that then ends up in landfills. Because of the way landfills are covered, the food and yard waste we throw in can't decompose the normal way and end up producing lots of methane, which is one of the most dangerous greenhouse gases (we're talking 30x stronger than carbon dioxide) (5). Yikes! Right now, food scraps and yard waste make up about 30 percent of what we throw away (2). Instead of throwing those away into a landfill, you can use those to create compost. Voila! You can save money on buying fertilizer, feel good knowing what is inside your soil, and reduce your carbon footprint all in one. An added bonus is that compost is a much safer alternative for your soil than commercially purchased fertilizers. Most fertilizers you purchase in the store contain a lot of chemicals that are harsh on the soil and mess up the nature balance of microbes that make for healthy soil (1).
Here's how to compost – it's as easy as ABG, 123
First things first, get yourself a compost bin or choose a cool and shaded area if you have a large yard. There are endless options for the types of compost bins you might be interested in. They vary in size, shape and whether or not you can keep them inside the house. Not sure how to choose a bin or good spot in your yard? We've got you covered.
Now that you're ready, what's next? Like we said, it's as easy as ABG, 123. Remember those letters and numbers and you'll be good to go. You'll want to stick to these rules even if you've heard otherwise about municipal and industrial composting facilities - they have more high tech equipment that allows them to compost a larger variety of organic matter. Here's what our little rhyme stands for.
- A – avoid adding in animal products. This includes fat, meat trimmings, and bones, as well as any diseased or toxic plants (2).
- B – bring in the browns. You want a good amount of dead leaves, branches, and twigs to provide carbon for your compost (2).
- G – don't forget the greens. This is basically yard trimmings, coffee grounds, vegetable scraps and egg shells. An extensive list of everything that you can add into your compost pile can be found here. The greens provide nitrogen for your compost (2).
You'll want to alternate layers of brown and green materials and make sure that large pieces are broken down (otherwise it'll take a really, reallllllly long time to decompose). Finally, you'll need some water to provide moisture to help break down the organic matter. While we can't give you exact measurements of how much water to include, because it'll depend on the size of your compost pile, you are looking for just damp soil. Any more and your pile will start to rot, not decompose. Here are three easy steps for you to follow.
- Monitor the moisture level – like we said, we're looking for slightly wet soil, but not soggy (2).
- Make sure to add in new scraps to your compost pile regularly – this will make sure the microbes decomposing your soil are happily fed (2)!
- Give the whole pile a good mix once every two weeks to ensure even mixing (2).
Depending on how big your compost pile is, it'll take anywhere from 2-6 months for your to get usable compost.
What do I do with my compost?
We'll keep it sweet and simple. Use it!
- Plant flowers or add it to your potted plants
- Plant a home garden
- Give it to friends and family
- Start community garden with it, or donate to an existing one
Honestly, the options are endless. Happy composting!