Composting: Turning Trash into a Garden Treasure

Have you ever heard about composting? As a gardener, compost is a great source of organic matter as well as fertilizer which can be mixed into the soil when planting. Whenever you do some gardening or planting, using organic fertilizer is a great idea. The awesome thing about compost is that it is cheap, eco-friendly and helps the soil with water retention where it’s needed. 

So what makes up a compost pit? It contains organic matter like the fallen leaves, trimmings of plants, clippings of grass or remains of other plants. It can also include fruit peels, kitchen and household wastes, coffee grounds, eggshells and so much more.

Did you know that you can also use shredded paper in the mix? Well, we do know that paper decomposes – just limit the amount of paper added in the compost because if you add too much, it will clump together and take longer to decompose. We’ll explore in detail what can and can’t go inside a garden compost.

Once you know which organic materials can be composted, it’s time to select the ideal space for your compost pit project, comments zero-waste living blog EscapeWaste. Keep in mind that the area should be level, have good drainage and can be hit partially by the sun. Make sure there is a good water source nearby because you will need that for your compost.

Basic Steps for Preparing Your Own Compost

1. Building your compost pit – structure. You can use wires woven together, big barrel, concrete blocks or treated lumber (1 by 4 inch dimensions). If you don’t want to make your own compost structure, you can buy prefabricated compost bins in hardware stores or turf suppliers.

Compost Bins

Compost Bins / Image by London Permaculture

2. Start the pile. This is where the materials that you collected come in hand. You need to arrange them in layers. Create a balanced mix of brown and green materials (find below more information about them).

3. Keep the pile moist. Frequently check your pile by squeezing a handful – make sure to wear garden gloves for protection.

Leave the first batch for 4-7 days before turning the pile and mixing the materials. Make sure that the pile is heated up and moist enough.

When the compost is done which usually takes six weeks to a year, it should look dark brown and crumbly – soil consistency with a sweet and musty smell. Then you can use it to enrich the soil in your garden and boost the growth of your plants.

Learn more about the Benefits of Composting for Your Lawn

What is Considered as Brown Material for Compost? 

Brown materials have plant origin and are usually brown in color, hence the name. They are the main source of carbon in the compost bin and ensure good airflow.

Most commonly used brown materials are:

  • Corn stalks
  • Dry leaves
  • Newspaper
  • Straw sawdust
  • Wood chips 

What Type of Green Materials to Put in a Compost Pile?

Green materials aren’t always green in color. They supply nitrogen for the compost pile and are also the main source of nutrients.

Here are several examples of green materials:

What to Put in a Garden Compost

Generally, you can compost everything that is organic. But have in mind that some organic material might be harmful to your compost pile.

We’ve prepared a list of things that are safe for composting: 

  • Black and white newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Coffee grounds and loose tea leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Herbivore animals manure (cows, goats, sheep, rabbits, etc.)
  • Most disease-free yard waste
  • Printer paper
  • Tree leaves
  • Vegetable and fruit food scraps (avocado skins, banana peels, apple peels, etc.)
  • Wood shavings or sawdust 

Be cautious if you put some of the following organic materials in your compost bin:

  • Food waste that contains small amounts of animal products (excluding fat, dairy, and meat) – bread and eggshells are beneficial for the compost pile but they can attract pests such as rats and raccoons. If your compost bin is equipped with a lock, then you will have nothing to worry about. You can still put eggshells in an open compost but ensure they are washed and well ground.
  • Colored newspapers (including magazines, brochures, catalogs) – most printed materials contain soy-based ink which is safe to put in a compost pile. But often the color printed paper is covered with a thin layer of wax. Although wax is also safe for the compost bin, it can slow down the process of decomposing. Avoid this problem by shredding the paper into tiny pieces before adding it to the rest of the brown materials.

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!