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Composting

Composting in your backyard is easy, fun and useful. 

 

Composting breaks down your household organic materials into a rich new soil.  It’s a great way to reduce your household waste.  Your waste can go towards creating new life materials rather than going to the landfill.  With composting, you can easily divert 20% of your household waste from  the landfill to your garden, houseplants or lawn!

 

You can buy a composter at any home hardware retailer, but you can also make one easily.  Check out these easy DIY projects that will give you an effective composter! 

 

When it comes to composting, there is a simple recipe to follow:  

Greens + Browns + Water + Air = Compost

 

Browns are materials that are high in carbon, like dried leaves and shredded paper.  Greens are materials that are high in nitrogen, like grass clippings and vegetables.  Along with the right amount of water and air, you end up with some quality compost soil.

 

 

Ok!  I want to compost!  What do I need to do to start?  

 

First Step             Find a spot and install/construct your composter

Find a suitable spot in your yard for your composter.  You are looking for a sunny area that is level, has good drainage and is accessible year round.

 

Second Step       Make your base layer

Add a base layer of twigs and very small branches in the bottom of your composter.  This will let some air to enter your compost and allow it to drain. 

 

Third Step           Add in layers

Add materials in alternating layers.  The ideal mix for a composter is 1 part Browns to 2 parts greens.  If you have some compost that has already been made, add a layer to introduce the necessary microorganisms needed to make your composter work.  Remember: A properly working composter does not emit odours!

 

Fourth Step        Mix it up!

Turn and moisten your compost regularly to increase air circulation in your compost pile.  Remember, your compost needs oxygen present to fuel the microorganisms and break down the composting materials.  Your compost pile should also be kept moist, like a damp sponge.  If it looks dry, water it!

 

 

 

Compost These Items DO NOT Compost These Items Tips for ideal composts!
  • Vegetable and fruit peelings
  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags/leaves
  • Weeds (but before they seed)
  • Spent plants and flowers
  • Straw and hay
  • Corn cobs
  • Crushed egg shells
  • Bread, pasta or rice (but no oil/sauce)
  • Woodchips and sawdust
  • Hair and dryer lint
  • Ashes
  • Grass/tree clippings treated with chemicals
  • Rhubarb leaves and other toxic plants
  • Plants infected with disease
  • Mature weeds with seeds
  • Walnut shells
  • Charcoal/coal ashes
  • Dog or cat droppings
  • Litter box waste
  • Meat and bones
  • Seafood and shellfish
  • Plastics and metals
  • Dairy products
  • Fats and oils
  • Use a pitchfork or shovel to aerate your compost pile. Some hardware and home improvement stores sell aerators specially designed for composters
  • Save some of your leaves from the fall for use during the spring and summer
  • Your compost is ready when it is dark in colour, crumbles to the touch and has an earthy smell
  • Consider using a second composter - one you can add materials to while the other is finishing
  • Chop materials smaller to help them break down quicker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Troubleshoot Problems with your composter

 

My compost has a bad odour!

  • Not enough air or too wet
  • Ammonia odour can occur when there are too many green materials (provides too much nitrogen)
  • Add dry ingredients, like dried leaves or shredded paper
  • Turn/aerate the pile

My composter’s process seems slow or the compost pile will not heat up!

  • Pile lacks moisture or nitrogen
  • Pieces may be too big
  •  
  • Check the moisture level of compost pile (should be like a wrung-out sponge) - if dry, moisten and mix
  • Add high nitrogen materials, like grass clippings or vegetable scraps
  • Chop waste materials into smaller pieces

My compost is too wet!

  • Poor drainage
  • Soaked from rainfall
  • Move to location with better drainage
  • Keep lid on composter
  • Add browns

My compost pile attracts animals or insect pests!

  • Meat, fish or fatty foods added to composter
  • Pile is too dry
  • Avoid adding meat/fish/fatty food waste to pile
  • Bury food wastes in pile or cover with soil or browns

 

 

 

 

More information on Composting