Learning how to make compost from home is a great way to treat your garden and prepare it for a great harvest. This compost is all-natural and can keep harmful chemicals away from your yard. Since you can control what is inside, you know exactly what is in your garden. At Weed-A-Way Lawn Care, we understand how important a healthy lawn is to how much you enjoy your home, and a good compost can be a great way to lay a strong foundation for your yard.
Making your own compost also allows you to reuse your own waste without having to throw it away. Many ingredients work for your compost as long as there is a good combination of green, wet ingredients, and brown, dry ingredients. Making your own compost is much easier than you may think.
Step 1: Combine Materials
It is important to pick out the materials you need to make the compost. Many household waste items, leaves, sticks, and other natural items work well for creating a compost pile when added together. Start collecting these materials early so you can have them ready when it is time to make your pile.
Pick out the ingredients you want to put into your compost. You need a pile three feet deep. Combine together the brown and the green items. The brown materials can include shredded branches, cardboard, fallen leaves, and dried plant materials. The green materials can include coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, and any fresh grass trimmings and plants.
To get the best results, always build the pile of compost by mixing three parts brown material with one part green material. If the pile looks too wet and has a scent to it, add more brown material. Aerate this more often. If you feel the compost pile is too dry, add in a little water and a few green items to add moisture.
Step 2: Water the Pile
The next step in learning how to make compost is learning how to water it effectively. This needs to be done regularly to help the compost have the same consistency as a damp sponge. Never add too much water, though. This will drown the microorganisms in the pile, causing rot. A little sprinkling of water is plenty to keep the pile moist without overdoing it.
Always check the pile before adding water. If the pile still feels damp and a little wet, you do not need to add more water in. Keep the compost pile somewhere it won’t get too wet between watering. If it rains quite a bit, this can get into the compost that you leave out and will encourage the pile to rot instead of decomposing. Pick a dry and clear area and check the compost before adding more water.
Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the pile to see whether the materials decompose. If you do not have a thermometer, you can use your hand to reach into the pile. If the compost feels warm, then you are set to go.
Step 3: Stir the Pile
You won’t need to do much with your compost pile. About once a week, use a garden fork to turn the pile over to provide oxygen. The best time to do this is when the pile feels warm or the thermometer gives a temperature between 130 and 150 degrees.
Stirring your pile helps it cook faster and will make sure the material becomes matted down and stops decomposing. This process also helps prevent any odor from developing in the compost. When you reach this point, the layers have served their purpose of mixing the brown and green materials in the pile, so just take the time to stir it around well.
Stirring the compost pile is important to getting oxygen inside. You may also consider chopping and shredding raw ingredients into small pieces. When these smaller pieces are in the pile, it helps speed up the composting process.
Step 4: Feed the Garden
Wait until the compost pile is ready to use. When you notice it stops giving heat and is brown and dry, this is a sign the pile is fully cooked and ready to feed your garden. Take about four inches of the compost to any flower beds, garden, or pots you plan to use when the planting season begins.
It is possible to make compost tea with some of the finished compost too. This is a process that involves taking the finished compost and steeping it in water for a few days. After that time, the compost is strained and used as a liquid fertilizer. It is your decision whether to leave the compost as it is or steep it to make compost tea. Both are effective for your garden.
Types of Composting
Before you start to create your own compost, it is important to know there are several types of compost. Cold composting includes collecting yard waste or using organic materials from the trash before adding them in a bin or a pile. Over time, usually within a year, the material starts to decompose.
The second option is hot composting. This is a faster process, giving you the compost you need in one to three months. There are four main ingredients needed for this process: water, air, carbon, and nitrogen. These ingredients help feed the microorganisms inside the compost, speeding up the decaying process. During times of lots of garden waste, mix one batch of compost and then begin a second one while letting the first cook.
The most common compost process is hot composting. This is the method we used above to make our own compost. It is fastest and allows you a way to create a good, healthy compost in half the time.
What to Compost?
Composting is perfect for reducing waste because you can use many items in your fridge. An easy way to accumulate the composting materials you will use is to keep a container right in the kitchen. Some materials that work well for composting include:
- Sawdust from any untreated wood
- Newspaper (shredded up)
- Chopped wood and chips of bark
- Dry leaves
- Plant and grass clippings
- Coffee grounds
- Vegetable scraps
- Fruit scraps
Be careful with some ingredients you add in though. Garlic and onion often repel earthworms, which are an important part of any garden.
What to Avoid in Your Compost
There are a few items we need to avoid when creating compost. These items often work poorly in the garden, and some have a smell that attracts pests and animals. Some items to avoid for a successful compost pile include:
- Feces from cats or dogs
- Sawdust and any chips from treated wood
- Plant materials that have a disease on them
- Anything that has grease, fat, oil, or meat
Creating a yard and garden you love is possible with the right compost. While you can purchase this compost at your local store, learning how to make compost helps you to know exactly which ingredients are inside it from the very start. Contact us at Weed-A-Way to discuss all your home lawn care needs and set up your consultation today.