Composting is an environmentally friendly way to recycle your food scraps and yard waste. It reduces your household’s carbon footprint and helps to eliminate methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. It also produces nutrient-rich soil that you can spread on your garden or flowers.
How to Make a Home Composter
If you live in an area with abundant outdoor space, consider building your own compost bin. You can use an old trash can, a wooden chest or anything else you can find in your yard that’s big enough to hold a pile of compost. Or you can purchase a commercial composter.
To make a home composter, first determine what materials you want to put in it. You’ll need a combination of wet (green) and dry (brown) materials to create the ideal compost. Green materials, like kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, grass clippings, shredded newspaper and dried plant material, add carbon while brown materials, such as hay and straw, add nitrogen.
When you’re ready to begin your pile, lay down a layer of green materials and then a layer of brown materials. You’ll want to alternate these layers so that the materials don’t get too crowded.
For the next few months, add fresh scraps to your compost every week or so, and mix the pile with a garden trowel, pitchfork or shovel to aerate it. Avoid putting meat or dairy products in your pile; they attract animals and can derail the composting process.
You’ll also need a container to collect your kitchen scraps until you can put them in your composter. A stainless steel pail with a lid will help to keep odors under control. Or you can make a compost bin out of an old plastic tote with a tight lid, which will allow you to mix your scraps in a bin and then transfer them to your outside pile.
Once you’ve got your compost pile, add water to aerate it and mix it regularly. This aeration will increase the rate at which the bacteria and other microbes break down your scraps into compost.
If you’re not sure what to put in your pile, start with a small pile and gradually add more materials until you reach the ideal size. The pile should be at least three feet deep and contain a mixture of wet and dry materials, such as shredded paper, cardboard, grass, leaves, dried plant material and kitchen scraps.
Then, alternating with the green and brown materials, add a few inches of compost starter to each layer to kickstart the process. As the compost starts to decompose, it will heat up and the microbes will become active. Once your pile is full, you can either bury it in the ground or dig it up and place it in an outdoor bin.
Whether you’re using a commercial composter or an easy-to-build one, you should always turn your compost pile on a regular basis. This will keep the microbes active and the pile healthy.