We have laid out a few helpful steps to help you get started:
Step 1 – Decide what type of container you want to use
This decision will depend largely on how much space you have and how much money you want to invest in your compost project.
Building Your Own – You can use something as quick and simple as bales of hay, or you can get much more complex and build a wooden structure with multiple chambers. This is an especially good option if you have a a few DIY skills and you have the space for it.
Buy A Composting Bin- This is a great option if you don’t have the time or energy to build your own. Another advantage of the store bought bin is it is off the ground which attracts less animals from getting in. There are loads of compost bin options you can buy. They are easily found at stores like Lowes or Amazon. Your biggest decision will be if you want one that tumbles or if you want to manually turn the compost yourself.
Use an existing container – If you only have a small space, you can turn an existing container such as a large plastic trashcan, rain barrel or even a Rubbermaid container into a composting bin. You obviously won’t get as much compost from these smaller container, but if you live in an urban area, this could be a perfect supply for your needs.
Step 2- Start collecting materials for your bin
All good compost starts with three main ingredients:
Browns – which will be things like dried leaves, dead plants, old pine needles, sticks, all that junk you rake up from your yard. You can also use shredded newspaper if you don’t have access to any old dead yard material.
Greens – this is going to be fresher materials such as grass clippings, fruit or vegetable parts, coffee grounds, tea bags and even human hair. (a local salon can hook you up if you need some of this material)
Water – Once you have equal parts “browns” and “greens” you are going to add water to the mix to start the organic growth process. You want to make sure it’s damp, but not swimming.
Step 3 – Wait and Turn
To really reap the rewards of composting there is some waiting involved. You will want to check and turn your compost every week. For us, this will probably be when we mow the yard, just check on the compost while we are at it. See if it needs more materials or water added to it. This is where the tumble composting bins really come in handy, but a good old fashion shovel does the job. If done correctly, you should start having composting soil ready in about six weeks.
This nutrient rich soil is wonderful for your flower beds and gardens, but it can also be great for helping fresh grass seed to grow, as well as filling in holes in warm and cool season grasses.
Here are a couple of links to additional resources as you get started on your composting journey:
EPA’s website – Composting at Home – https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home
DIY – Getting Started with Composting – http://momsneedtoknow.com/composting-basics-get-started-composting/
University Extension Compost and Composting Resources-