Thursday, September 9, 2010

Composting tutorial

I have been composting for about 2 years now. I started composting because I wanted to reduce my garbage. I felt like I was throwing away a lot of vegetable and paper products. My solution was to start composting. Now my garbage output is very little.

Materials needed: compost bin, browns, greens

What are browns and greens?
Browns (carbon) - these are leaves, very small twigs, dryer lint, hair (animal or human), paper, card board, hair
Greens (nitrogen) - non meat by products, fruits, vegetables, egg shells

You can use a commercial compost bin or a large plastic container. I would recommend a large bin if you have 2 or more people in your household. The large plastic container would be good for a 1 person household. I would also recommend a container that will allow you to stir the contents easily.

Location, location, location

A good spot for the bin would be close enough to the house so you will be inclined to dump your stuff but not too close to the house just in case it smells. Behind a garage or down wind of the house works best.

Outdoor stuff
Walk around your yard and collect leaves, mulch, small twigs (do not put a lot of twigs in the compost it will take forever to break down! I did this the first year I composted. A pain in the butt.) Throw that stuff in the bin.

Kitchen scraps
Designate a container in your house for your veggie food scraps. I try to dump my household scraps everyday, but of course I am not that dedicated, especially in the winter. Sometimes I will put the scraps in a paper bag and put it in the freezer until I am ready to put it in the bin.

What I add to my bin
**I collect my dogs hair after I brush him. He likes the brushing and doesn't mind sharing some of his excess hair.
**hair from my hair brush
**I tear up the card board inside of toilet paper rolls
**paper bags
**paper napkins that do not have any meat products on them

If you are in a hurry to produce some brown goodness, then you will need to be more exact about what you add to the bin. You will need a good ratio of browns to greens. Technically, it should be 30:1. I think this is hard because I typically have more greens than browns. If you add too many greens the compost will smell. Yuck! If you add too many browns it will take a long, long time to compost.

A couple of tips;
**Water the bin. If I know it is going to rain, I will take the lid off my bin or I will empty the old ice out of the ice maker into the bin. You want the compost to be moist but not soaking wet.
**Keep it hot. A covered bin is better for maintaining a warm temperature.
**Do not put weeds or other plants in the bin unless you want to grow weeds everywhere you deposit your compost.
**No dog or cat poop. You don't want to contaminate the compost with intestinal parasites.
**Stirring the mix every couple weeks will allow air to circulate so bacteria can thrive.


  1. I can't wait to start composting! I purchased my home November 2008 but I'm still working on and learning about yardwork. Baby steps...but I hope to have a composter within a couple of years!

  2. You may want to check with your local parks district to see if they have any composting promotions. A couple of years ago Cincinnati gave away a ton of composting bins for free! Can't beat that.


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