How To Compost – Make Composting Easy
Tawra is the gardener and as I have said before I’m not quite as good (LOL That’s an understatement – Mike) but I do love, love my compost pile. I don’t make it fancy or complicated. I just find a spot in my yard and start piling things on it.
I think I like it so much because it reduces the amount of things in my trash. Not only that, there are things I hate to deal with like dead, smelly formerly-fresh flowers. With a compost pile, I just run the vase of them out to the compost pile and dump. So easy.
I also love it because, if I need soil to pot any of my flowers, I just dig some out of my compost pile and never have to buy any soil.
I use the compost when I reseed my yard. I place a thin layer of it down first, then add seed and then another thin layer of compost to help it along. I also sprinkle some around my flower beds just to give them a little boost.
Here are some more ideas from Tracy in Ohio:
Here are things you can add to your compost pile:
- Egg shells, coffee grounds and lawn clippings.
- Dryer lint. If you must dry your clothes in an electric clothes dryer, at least compost the lint.
- Hair and fur. Hair adds nitrogen and other beneficial nutrients to compost.
- Fireplace ashes. Wood ashes contain potassium, a major plant nutrient that can be beneficial depending on the soil type.
- Cotton, wool, and silk clothing and fabric. Worn-out clothing items made exclusively of natural fibers will decompose faster if you shred them before composting.
- Full vacuum cleaner bags. Paper vacuum cleaner bags and their contents – as well as all species of non-synthetic debris – are welcome in the compost pile.
- Nail clippings. The byproducts of pedicures, manicures, and even pet nails are all compostable, provided that they’re polish-free.
- Rope and string. Rope and twine made out of natural fibers (e.g., cotton, hemp, jute, and manila ropes) will decompose in the compost pile.
- Leather goods and clothing. Natural leather products will decompose (albeit slowly) in the compost pile.
- Cotton balls and Q-Tips. Just make sure that your cotton swabs like Q-Tips are 100% cotton and have cardboard or wooden sticks (NOT plastic).
- Seaweed/kelp. If you live on an ocean or other waterway and your shoreline is being invaded by washed up seaweed or kelp, add it to the compost pile.
- Stale bread and other grain products. Leftover grain-based food products, including pasta, rice, cereal, crackers, pizza crusts, etc., can be composted (bury them in the pile to deter unwanted pests).
Here is a question from one of our readers. She was hesitating starting a composting pile because she had heard they could smell. She also asked if I had to stir my compost pile all the time.
Tawra is the compost expert but I thought I would answer this because Tawra does stir her compost from time to time and does all the "proper things" to hers, mainly because she usually has a huge garden and yard and it is a very important part of her life.
I, on the other hand, am just an average person who does composting on a smaller scale, which I think many of you would like to do. Here is an answer to the reader’s question:
I’m afraid I am a very laid back composter if there is such a thing. I just toss my compostable things in a small corner of the yard, adding to it when I feel like it and never touch it until I need to get some soil from it. I know that experts say you should stir the compost, layer the items in the pile and do a variety of other things to help it along but I never do any of that and I still get compost so I figure, "Why mess with all those things when I get compost without doing them?" (Note from Tawra: you mess with it if you want it to rot faster.)
I have heard people comment about the smell, too but I have never noticed a problem with it. I did once smell my compost pile the day after I put something on it but the next day the smell was gone and that was the only time I have ever smelled anything unpleasant. (I can’t remember where I was living at the time, which could have made a difference.) (Note from Mike: You’re not supposed to put meat in a compost pile and I know if you do, it will stink terribly.)
I am not really picky with my compost. I will add a few banana peels, egg shells and other things like that every few days or once a week but I mostly just include grass clipping, dead flowers and leaves. Sometimes I will add paper towels or napkins but not large amounts of those things. I am not sure if I don’t notice a smell because I don’t put many different things in the compost pile or not.
If you are concerned with smell, I would find a corner away from the house and place some things in a pile for 2 weeks and see what happens. The worst thing that will happen is, at the end of that time, you will just have to scoop it up and put it in the trash. On the other hand, you might find that it works great.
I do suggest that you have some variety in your pile. Don’t just place all fruit peels and egg shells but pile grass clippings and/or leaves on it too.
Often, people make these things so complicated with rules and specific ways that things must be done. Then it gets so confusing we don’t want to even bother to try. I say keep it simple. You don’t have to start out composting every little thing. Just do a little and, as you get the feel for what you are doing, start doing more. Hope this helps.
photo by: uberculture