With enough proper maintenance and basic knowledge on the subject, composting is indeed a very simple and low cost D.I.Y. project that anyone can do.
As I began to spend more time weeding and clearing out my yard in order to start up a garden, I contemplated ways in which I could enrich the soil so that it would benefit anything I decided to grow there (and so I could simply nurture the soil in general).
One of the simplest and most efficient (as well as cost efficient) ways in which I found to do this was by composting.
What is composting?
Composting is the process of recycling organic matter/material in order for it to decompose and produce a nutrient rich fertilizer to add to soil.
What I have come to learn is that there are a variety of techniques when it comes to starting a compost. Although there are many different machines available to support this process, such as tumblers, tray units, and compost kits, I can say that from my own experience and research thus far, none of these products are even necessary to start your own compost project.
How to start a compost?
The two simplest ways that I have found to start a compost are:
- Creating a designated pile in your yard
- Using a plastic storage bin to store the material
I will add details below on how to regulate the process, but these are the basic methods.
Creating a Pile in Your Yard
This is a very simple method.
All you have to do is designate a spot in your yard that is easily accessible, yet still out of the way since these piles do tend to smell after a while.
Once you have chosen a designated area to start it, lay some twigs or grass clippings down on the earth and simply begin by adding material. You will want to occasionally turn and mix the pile as it starts to accumulate material, you can do this with tools such as a pitchfork, rake, or shovel.
If you want to keep the pile a little more tidy, you can expand the project even further by constructing an encasement around the pile itself out of wood, specifically hard wood pallets (side note: wood pallets are also very good for making pallet gardens). To add your own touch to it, you can also get creative and paint the pallets before you construct the encasement.
Using a Plastic Storage Bin (This is the method I am currently using.)
This method is also very simple to start, and it avoids a lot of mess and is good to keep in easily accessible spaces.
For this, all you need is:
- A Plastic Storage Container (preferably with a lid)
- A Drill (or anything that can poke holes through the lid of the container)
To get this project going, all you need to do is find an easily accessible place to store the container, drill/create holes in the lid at least 1-2 inches apart for air circulation, and simply add material to start the compost.
How to regulate/maintain your compost?
Although composting is a simple process, maintenance is still required.
To maintain a compost, all you have to do is:
- Once material starts to accumulate, remember to turn the pile occasionally (I do this once a day).
- For the storage container: You can do this with a small shovel, or simply by picking up the tub and shaking it till it is thoroughly mixed.
- For the pile: As I wrote above, you can mix the pile with a tool such as a shovel, rake, or pitchfork.
- Make sure there is an even balance between moist and dry materials.
- This is important, you don’t want your compost to be too wet or too dry. Make sure to keep an eye on this and to add more moist or dry materials accordingly.
The compost should be ready to use when all the contents have fully (or at least mostly) decomposed. It should have a dark and rich appearance, giving off an earthy scent. Once it has reached this state, it will then be ready to incorporate into your soil.
What materials to add to a compost?
Dry materials that you can add:
- Dry Grass Cuttings
- Fallen Leaves
- Egg Shells
- Cut Up Egg Cartons
- Shredded/Teared Up Paper/Newspaper
- Wood Ash/Chips
- Small Pieces of Cardboard
Moist materials that you can add:
- Vegetable Peelings
- Fruit Waste
- Fresh Grass Cuttings
- Coffee Grounds
What to AVOID adding:
- Dairy Products
- Dog or Cat Poop
- Baby Diapers
- Plastic, Glass, and Metals
All my love best wishes, you got this.