Composting 101

This blog post was written by Liluye Staff Writer, Katie Hutchinson, who is a driven and compassionate environmentalist and humanitarian.

Composting has been an agricultural practice for as long as farmers can remember. And, it’s something, if you have decided to make your own garden, that you should consider incorporating. 

It’s important for a few key reasons. The first being it reduces the amount of waste you produce. Instead of piling all the banana peels you’ve consumed over the week into the trash can, you can collect them, and bring potassium back into the soil. (Tomatoes also love this, if you’re growing them). Another is that the addition of compost to soil makes it richer, adding more nutrients that allows the plants you grow to be healthier and more resilient. 

When beginning to compost, note that not everything can be thrown into the bin you collect waste in. And, most importantly, there is a structure to how you compost. 

Let’s begin with what you can and cannot compost. 

Image by Julia Simon via NPR.

Meat products are never something you want to incorporate. The same goes with animal products, such as dairy and eggs. Additionally, oil is not wanted in a compost pile, either. If you stick to steering clear of these products you will be well on your way to making a perfect compost pile.

Here Is the List of What Can’t Be Composted
• Meat and fish scraps
• Dairy
• Fats, grease, and oils
• Pet waste
• Human waste
• Diseased plants
• Yard waste treated with chemicals

When it comes to what you should include, it’s important to have different types of organic material in your compost bin; specifically materials that are carbon and nitrogen-rich.

These Are the Carbon Rich Items
Newspaper and paper scraps
• Yard trimmings
• Hair
• Fireplace ashes
• Pet fur
• Dryer lint
• Toilet paper rolls
• Wood chips
• Dry leaves

And, These Are the Nitrogen Rich Items
• Eggshells
• Fruit
• Vegetables
• Coffee grounds
• Tea leaves
• Herbs

Now that you know what goes into the compost pile or bin, let me explain in the most beginner way possible how this process works. I feel like most of the “how to compost” blogs have a tendency to over explain things, when you really only need to know a few details. 

The first thing is that it’s important to layer the different types of material so there is not too much of one type. For example, you could start with a base layer of twigs, mulch, or old potting mix that will encourage air circulation and provide drainage. Then, you can follow with layers of green and brown material, such as garden clippings and kitchen scraps; then leaves and wet paper.

Secondly, make sure all the pieces that you throw into your container are no bigger than your thumb. The smaller the pieces, the quicker the decomposition process can begin.

In addition, enclosing the composting in a bin that’s located and kept in a dry area is important. While moisture is necessary to make everything transpire, you DO NOT, I repeat, do not, want things to be too wet or it will create mold.

After that, once you get started, mixing the material occasionally is necessary. And, once it all breaks down, it becomes easier to maintain as time progresses.

Now you know what goes in a compost bin and the basic steps to get you started! Start saving scraps, newspapers, you name it, and watch your garden come next planting season be so bountiful!

Post Sources
• A beginner’s guide to composting. Date: April 28, 2022. Written by: Unknown. (Good Living)

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