Updated: Nov 21, 2019
Composting At Home, Helping Keep Your Garden Clean
Do you plant a vegetable garden every year? Do you amend your soil with nutrient-rich compost to enrich your soil and produce the best veggies? If not, now is a good time to start. You don’t have to spend a lot of money or time for compost--you can make your own at home and reduce waste while you do it!
First, the Essentials
To start composting at home you will need a few things:
Composter (classic or tumbler.) Can be purchased online (MaxWorks 80699 Garden Compost Rotating Tumbler is a prime example of a suitable composter), as well as from the City of Los Angeles (just $20 for residents.)
Dried leaves or shredded paper.
The Path to Good Compost
Once you have the equipment you need, you can start composting, but not just anything can be thrown into your composter. There are several rules you should follow, not just regarding the items you add to it, but for what to do with the growing compost pile. Here is the Sparkleyard Outdoor Maids list of Do’s for composting at home:
The ideal ratio is 2 parts green (fresh/moist materials) to 1 part brown (dry materials), or a 50/50 mix. If your pile seems “goopy” add more brown; if it isn’t breaking down fast enough, use less brown.
Add fruit and vegetable scraps into the composter (chopping them up into smallish pieces helps them decompose more quickly.)
Dry leaves are an important ingredient for good compost. They help the decomposition process and keep your compost from becoming just a stinky pile of mush…but stay away from eucalyptus and pine, whose oils and acidity work against decomposition.
Spoiled fruits and veggies are perfect for the composter.
Add those coffee grounds and tea leaves to the compost pile.
Paper towels, napkins, even worn out jeans and tee shirts (100% cotton!) are acceptable “brown” items for composting. Soy ink is the standard these days, and glues are corn-based, so feel free to use newspapers, boxes and grocery bags...shredded, of course!
Avoid a kitchen fruit fly infestation by regularly emptying your kitchen compost pail into your compost bin...then add the same amount (or more) of brown materials and mix, which will discourage fruit flies there as well.
If you have a tumbler composter, rotate your compost weekly or whenever you add more to the pile. If you have a standard composter, turn the contents using a pitchfork or shovel.
Moisten your compost pile with water from a hose or watering can. Your compost should have the moisture content of a wrung out sponge.
Mix compost into your vegetable garden soil 2 weeks before you plan on planting to give the nutrients time to absorb and to remove any weeds or unwanted plants that may sprout
These tips will help you create great compost that will help your fruits and vegetables grow to maximum deliciousness. A properly maintained compost pile creates its own heat, preventing any seeds within it from germinating. If you can feel warmth wafting up from the compost pile you are doing it right!
The Path to Avoid
Knowing what you should do to create nutritious compost for your plants is important, but so is knowing what NOT to do. You may consider a few of these common sense, but we would be remiss not to include them here.
The composter is no place for meat products, oil and grease. They won’t break down and they attract rodents.
NEVER EVER put dog or cat poop in the composter. If you happen to have a cow or goat, however, their poop is okay!
NO eucalyptus or pine leaves.
Avoid paper with shiny coatings (like glossy magazines), and plastic tape on boxes.
Don’t get soil happy. It is beneficial to add some soil to the composter, but too much can dilute it and upset the carbon to nitrogen ratio.
Ready, Set, Compost!
Compost can be used throughout the year, so, even if you’ve missed out on making compost for spring planting, you can start now and be ready to revive your soil in a few months.
Sparkleyard Outdoor Maids is available to answer your questions related to this article, as we are here for all your garden cleaning, patio cleaning, and other exterior cleaning and gardening needs.
Contact us any time, and happy composting!