How do I start composting?

Composting turns organic wastes into a valuable resource by creating an earthy, dark, crumbly substance that is excellent for adding to houseplants or enriching your garden soil and flower beds. Plus by recycling your yard and kitchen wastes you are reducing the volume of garbage sent to the landfills.

  • A bin keeps the compost contained and looks neater.
  • The two basic elements of compost are green garden debris (grass clippings or old plants) and brown garden derbis (dry leaves).
  • Green ingredients are high in nitrogen and brown materials are high in carbon. Adding too many greens can make the pile smell bad.
  • Compost piles with a balance of one part green to two part brown materials break down fastest.
  • Compost also needs the correct amount of moisture to breakdown. Check your compost pile's moisture level once a week and adjust it if necessary by adding water to increase moisture or more browns to help dry the pile out. The correct moisture level should feel like a damp, wrung-out sponge. Too much moisture can cause temperatures to fall within the pile and make it smell. Too little moisture slows down the decomposition rate and keeps the pile from heating up.
  • Turn the pile once a week to move material from the outside of the pile in. Turning also keeps the pile from compacting, which reduces airflow and slows down decomposition.
  • You should have finished compost in about two months. You'll know your compost is finished when it no longer heats up and you can't identify any of the original materials. The compost should be dark brown, moist and earthy smelling.
  • Never add animal waste, meats, oils, dairy, diseased plants, weeds that have gone to seed, or plants treated with pesticides or herbicides to your compost.

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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