Each year more and more Washington homeowners try their hand at composting. It’s a great way to cut down on your waste and be a little more environmentally friendly. Not to mention, you can create your own free fertilizer to use whenever you want. But how do you start a compost pile? What can you actually compost? How long does it take before you can use the compost in your garden? Keep reading and find out how to start your very own composting project.
Backyard Composting Tips
If you have the room, composting is a great way to reduce the amount of waste you produce while making your very own fertilizer to give back to the Earth. It’s fun, it’s easy, and the best part is it’s cheap. All you need is your green waste and a place to store it. Depending on the size of your compost pile, the ingredients you add, and how often you turn it, this process can take three months to two years.
Choose a Compost Bin That Fits Your Needs
Where you place your compost doesn’t really matter as long as it is away from your home and has enough space. They can be either open-air compost piles or bins with a lid. You can spend as much or as little as you want on compost bins, but in the end, it’s all the same.
Enclosed Compost Bins
Enclosed bins are bins that are sealed. This can be a store-bought model, a garbage can with holes drilled into the sides, or a tumbler. You can make an enclosed bin out of pretty much anything, but the only thing they require is adequate ventilation to allow air and insects to move freely.
Here in Washington state, if you live in the country with a large amount of land, open-air sites might be the best option. These can be very large and depend on the forces of nature to do the brunt of the work. The only downside to open-air composting is 1) the smell and 2) it can attract animals and pests to your yard.
Gather Your Materials
First, you will need a separate container from your kitchen garbage to store your food scraps. We recommend getting one with a lid to keep odors down. You will use this bin to transport your materials to your compost pile or outside bin. Empty your bin every few days to prevent fruit from fermenting and attracting fruit flies. Another option is to freeze your scraps in a freezer. This way, decomposition, and smell stop until you are ready to take it out. Here is a list to help show you what is considered ‘green’ materials and what is considered ‘brown.’
Green materials are any material that comes from living plants or is high in nitrogen.
- Coffee grounds
- Grass clippings
- Vegetable and fruit scraps
Brown materials are materials that come from dead plants and are low in nitrogen.
- Corn stalks
- Dead leaves
- Dry grass clippings
- Hay or straw
Maintain A Balance Between Brown and Green
Minding proper nitrogen (greens) and carbon (browns) ratio is essential to ensure your compost pile decomposes properly and doesn’t smell too bad. Adding too much green material will cause your pile to stink. Balance it out with brown material. If there is too much brown material, your pile won’t break down fast and could cause mold and fungus to grow. A good ratio to shoot for is one-third greens to two-thirds browns.
What You Can’t Compost
Composting can be fun but don’t get too carried away. Not everything organic or biodegradable should go into your compost pile. Here are some items you should never add to your compost pile.
- Animal carcasses
- Coal or wood ashes
- Diseased plants
- Grease or oil
- Human and pet waste
- Meat, fat, or bones
- Pine needles or oak leaves
- Plants treated with pesticides
Get Lawn Fertilization From Colonial Lawn And Garden
Your yard needs to be fertilized to stay strong and healthy but creating enough compost to cover your entire yard is impractical if not impossible. At Colonial Lawn and Garden, our landscape enhancements will ensure your grass gets everything it needs to stay strong and healthy. We also offer lawn care programs to keep your lawn looking green and healthy all year long. Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter to learn more about us and see photos of our work! You can call us at (509) 966-1655 for service near Yakima or for the Tri-City area, call (509) 371-1655. You can also leave us a message through our online form here.