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What is 'composting'?


Dan Sharp (Green Family Expert) gives expert video advice on: What kinds of things can I compost?; What should I not compost?; Once I start composting, what needs to be done on a regular basis? and more...

What is 'composting'?

Composting is taking kitchen scraps and other organic matters, allowing it to be broken down by microorganisms and insects into what ultimately is like dirt. A very nutrient rich dirt that provides a really good soil amendment for your garden.

What is a 'composter'?

A composter is a device that is used instead of digging a hole to put your compost in. It keeps your compost all contained in one little area. It allows it to be watered effectively and also keeps it so that the air can flow through it a little bit better.

Where can I buy a composter?

You can purchase a composter online or at a home center. They typically run anywhere from 20 dollars for a really simple one, up to a couple hundred dollars for one with lots of features.

What is 'vermicomposting'?

Vermicomposting is a way of breaking down kitchen scraps and other organic matter using worms. They eat up and process the organic matter and turn it into just a really effective soil amendment.

Why is vermicomposting good for people with small yards?

Vermicomposting is good for people with small yards because the amount of space needed to do it is really small. Not only that, some people do it inside their house. You have to make sure that you feed the worms because otherwise they can get out of the container. So if you're going to do it, make sure you take care of them.

Why should I compost?

Composting is good for the environment because it reduces the amount of trash you send to the landfill. Since we started composting, we've reduced our trash by about twenty-five per cent. In addition, the compost you get out of it when you're done provides a really good soil amendment for your garden or your plants.

What kinds of things can I compost?

You can compost anything that's made of organic matter. Mainly people compost stuff from their kitchen, so any kitchen waste that's not a meat item. You can compost leaves, grass clippings, even some newspaper. If you're really into it, if you have compostable cups, disposable cups, some of those can be composted if their label shows that.

What should I not compost?

If it can break down, it is perfectly possible to compost them. They can attract unwanted pests and you have unwanted visitors to your compost pile. It can also create some unwanted smells.

What materials do I need to start composting?

In order to start composting, you need a source of some kind of organic matter. Everybody has some kitchen scraps and some lawn clippings or some extra leaves sitting around. You either need a compost bin or just dig a hole in the ground, throw it all in, mix it up, keep it watered and you are ready to go.

Where is the best place for my composter?

Ideally, for convenience, your composter should be located somewhere you can get to, and in order for it to function properly, it should be placed somewhere that gets some sun so that it can get warm. That actually causes the organic matter to break down more quickly.

Once I start composting, what needs to be done on a regular basis?

Once you start composting on a regular basis, you need to keep it wet. A couple times a week, you want to water it. While you do that, you also want to mix it up. You keep the more broken-down stuff that will actually be at the bottom of the pile, you keep that mixed in with the newer stuff that you've added. It also keeps air involved in it. The microorganisms that end up breaking down the organic matter need air in order to function, so that helps do that as well.

How long will it take to produce compost?

Depending on how well the compost is mixed, how closely you take care of it, and how much sun it's getting, compost can be ready within a couple of months. If it's not well mixed, it might take six months to a year to be finished.

What can I do with my finished compost?

Your finished compost is mainly used as a soil amendment. It can be put on your lawn, in your flower beds, and in your garden. It really helps your plants to grow.

Can I compost all year round?

If you live in a warmer climate, you can definitely compost all year long. If you're in an area where it freezes in the winter, you can have your compost pile there. It probably won't break down as quickly though.