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Tips On How To Manage Your Compost Heap

Apr 12, 2008
There are many instances when homeowners choose not to get started with backyard composting because of the perception that it is hard to do correctly. In reality, you just need to collect the basic organic materials, find a place for the compost heap and then allow nature to take over the task. But, there are some basic guidelines to keep in mind that can help make the whole process move forward without a hitch.

There are a number of different types of compost bins on the market that you can use to help manage and contain your compost. But, a special bin is not a requirement that is needed to accomplish successful composting, but more of a convenience. It is easy enough to build your own bin for your pile and simply cover it over with a sheet of polythene or chunk of cardboard.

Some people, however, prefer to have their compost heap more contained and neat in appearance and to have it easier to manage as well. If that is the case, then compost bins can be a good solution.

These special bins are easy enough to find online or at local stores that sell organic gardening tools and supplies. Some local municipalities also have compost bins available at a reduced cost to encourage people to recycle their organic waste.

Making a compost is as simple as adding your organic items that are compostable on a regular basis. Any waste product that was at one time a living thing will compost, or decompose, but some items are not recommended to be thrown into your pile. Meats, dairy foods and cooked foods will end up attracting pests and vermin so these should not be used in your home composting efforts.

Dead and decaying leaves, lawn clippings, manure, and kitchen waste such as rinds, peelings, coffee grounds and even eggshells can be added to it. Older, thicker and tougher plant materials are slower to decompose but they benefit the compost by providing more substance, or body, to the finished product. These heavier materials usually comprise most of a compost pile.

Wood items take a long time to decompose. Whenever possible it is best to shred, chip or chop wood materials to help accelerate the rotting process. However, as long as they are mixed in with other materials that decompose faster they will still provide some benefit to the process overall.

In general it is best to have fairly equal amounts of what is called brown material and green material in it. Brown materials are the manures, dead leaves, small twigs and cardboard and newspapers. Green materials include hedge and grass clippings, coffee grounds, fruit rinds and uncooked vegetables.

You only need to have about one foot of organic material to get your compost heap started. In most instances, just mowing the yard and weeding your flowerbeds and vegetable garden will give you enough to begin. If needed, then you can also add organic kitchen waste and newspaper, and even a little straw if you are coming up short of the one foot level.

Once things get piled up, nature will take over and the decomposition process will start. It is good to turn the heap about every two weeks and within four to six months you will have a nice compost of waste materials that will give a boost to your soil.
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