Compost Basics – Key Componets

A basic article on composting for those of you that have experience in composting please share your thoughts and ideas at Earthytalk

Municipal waste of food residuals and yard trimmings constitute approximately 25 percent of the total waste and that’s a lot that gets sent to America’s landfills. If we just stop to think for a moment, this waste could be turned into environmentally useful compost instead of lying in the muck heap rotting away.

In this article on compost basics we cover what to compost and what not to compost and cannot stress enough the importance of composting. The finished compost can be applied to gardens and lawns to recondition the soil, replenishing nutrients. It is important that you note that compost is not potting soil and should not be used for house plants because of the weed and grass seeds present in its composition.

Composting is extremely easy to do and there are a lot of items that can go on the compost heap. Make sure you start at the very bottom of the garden because it can stink! To maintain your compost heap takes very little effort. All you need to do is mix and turn the pile every so often and add a little water to it.

Get a large bin and put it at the bottom of the garden, preferably near a water source. All compost requires 3 basic elements:

1. greens: grass clippings, vegetable waste and fruit scraps;

2. browns: branches, twigs and dead leaves and

3. water.

You should keep a pitchfork handy for turning and mixing the compost. There is no ideal composting method so feel free to follow any process you are comfortable with.

Some of the materials that can be used to compost include:
•    Coffee grounds and the filter papers
•    Animal manure
•    Clean paper and shredded newspaper
•    Cardboard rolls like what comes out of your toilet roll and kitchen paper towel roll
•    Eggshells
•    Fireplace ashes
•    Cotton rags and wool rags
•    Fruit parings
•    Sawdust
•    Wood chips
•    Tea bags
•    Shredded newspaper
•    Hair and animal fur
•    Grass clippings and yard trimmings
•    Leaves, twigs and branches
•    Houseplants
•    Nut shells
•    Hay and straw
Some of the materials that should not be used to compost include:
•    Coal and charcoal ashes which possible contain substances harmful to plants
•    Black walnut tree leaves and twigs which release harmful substances
•    Diseased, insect ridden plants
•    Dairy products like yogurt and milk which create a stink and attract rodents and flies
•    Grease, fat, lard and oil which create a stink and attract rodents and flies
•    Pet waste products
•    Meat or fish bones which create a stink and attract rodents and flies
In bygone days burning leaves, twigs, branches and other clippings and trimmings was the standard norm. In our more enlightened world today we know that it can pollute the air, causing breathing problems for people with asthma, emphysema and allergies and also lead to wild fires. In fact many states ban leaf burning.

Turning waste into compost is an environmentally responsible way of dealing with waste products and reducing the burden on landfills.

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