Q.) I’d like to start composting but not sure where to begin.
A.) Composting couldn’t be easier. The basics of compost are plant wastes (leaves, twigs, grass), and kitchen scraps (vegetable and salad waste) Eggshells are a great addition too. These provide the carbon and nitrogen necessary for the decomposition process to occur. A simple pile of the above ingredients will get you started. An ideal size for a compost pile is 4 ft. by 4 ft. You also need to see that the pile gets adequate moisture, like a damp sponge, and that oxygen is getting to the middle of the pile. You can accomplish this by turning the pile every week or so.
Q.) Is there anything I should not add to my compost pile?
A.) From the kitchen don’t add meat (including bones) or dairy products. These will attract unwanted pest to your pile, and they can harbor bacteria and disease. I stick to the fruits and veggies, as well as the salad waste.
From the yard and garden, don’t add any plant material that is diseased. Disease pathogens can survive the composting process, only to spread problems to another area of your garden. Destroy diseased plants or discard separately and remove from the garden as soon as possible. I also do not add weeds to my compost pile if there is any chance they may have seeds forming. Weed seeds can persist for many years, and can easily remain viable in your compost. The obvious result is more weeds by far, then you thought you were getting rid of. Lastly, I do not include twigs thicker than a pencil. These will break down eventually, although too slowly for my taste.
Q.) I want to make a compost pile but I don’t know what I can add. Can you help me?
A.) Definitely! Do you know that about 80% of household waste can be added to your compost pile? Most items from the kitchen, as well as paper products like copier and fax paper, newspapers, and paper towel and tissue rolls can go. Most paper products today including glossy sections of the newspaper are made with soy based dyes, which are harmless for composting. Add anything from your kitchen meals, except for meat and dairy products.
From the yard, anything that was growing at one time will be fine, except for diseased plants. Remove these ASAP, and discard them away from your garden and compost pile. I also don’t like weeds, or twigs larger then a pencil to go in my piles. They will both compost, but I don’t have the patience for the twigs and limbs to break down, and I don’t want weed seeds to persist in my garden because the weed seeds may have survived the composting process. However, I do compost the larger branches and limbs in another way. If you have room, find a place where you can pile these in a hidden area of your yard. They will eventually break down, and in the process, they make a great wildlife habitat for all sorts or birds, and animals.