Backyard Composting

Composting is a simple inexpensive way to reduce what you have trucked away, and makes great soil for your garden.

Five reasons why you should

  1. Reduce your garbage. Organic waste (such as kitchen vegetable scraps and garden clippings) make up 30% per cent of the household garbage currently being sent to the landfill. Composting your organic waste is a great way to reduce this volume.
  2. It’s easy. Setting up a compost in your household is simple and inexpensive. Everyone in the home can participate and feel good about making a difference.
  3. Help the environment. Less waste means fewer trucks on the road, less methane gas generated from the landfills, and recycling nutrients back into the earth. 
  4. Improve your garden. Your compost will help your garden soil retain moisture after rain or watering.
  5. Reduce use of chemical fertilizers. Keep local waterways clean by avoiding chemical fertilizers. Composting returns nutrients to the garden.

Ten easy steps

  1. Choose a partly sunny area with good drainage.
  2. Purchase a bin from your municipality or a store or build your own rodent-proof compost bin. Keeping a  lid on your bin will help keep out rain and rodents. tip: The ideal compost bin size is one cubic metre in  order to retain the heat it generates. 
  3. Create a 6–10cm base layer using straw, leaves,  or woody brushy material to promote air circulation. 
  4. Alternate layers of green (nitrogen-rich) and  brown (carbon-rich) materials. See the chart for a list of acceptable and unacceptable materials.  tip: Chop up large materials for faster decomposition. 
  5.  Whenever you add a food scrap layer,  top it off with a layer of brown material (5–8cm).  If you only use kitchen scraps  (green material), your compost  will likely be wet and break  down more slowly. tip: In the fall, collect dry leaves into an old garbage container so that you can use them year-round.
  6. Mix bin contents every week or two. This aerates the materials and gets the bin heating up again, allowing them to decompose faster. Purchase an aerator tool or use an old ski pole or broom handle.
  7.  Moisture content of the bin should be like a wrung-out dishrag. Only add water if it is very dry after mixing. tip: To maintain proper moisture content, balance the amount of green and brown materials.
  8. Pile will shrink. Continue to add layers of green and brown materials until bin is almost full. 
  9. Compost is generally ready to use after about 2–3 months; however, aging the compost for another 1–2 months is recommended. tip: If you have room, set up two composters so you can add to one bin as the other one matures.
  10. Harvest your compost when the compost at the bottom and centre is decomposed, full of healthy worms, and moist. Dig out the compost with a shovel, using the door at the bottom of a commercial bin; or if you have built your own, remove the top new layers and dig the compost from the centre. tip: You may  choose to sift your compost through a mesh screen to remove large chunks or unfinished material.

Source: Metro Vancouver

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